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Mother's story inspires push for stronger abortion protections in Maine

Dana Pierce said she and her husband had to pay $40,000 and travel to Colorado for the procedure, 32 weeks into pregnancy.

YARMOUTH, Maine — There is a shelf in Dana Pierce's home dedicated to her son who was never born. His name was Cameron.

"I just remember how hard it was," Pierce said. 

All the Pierces have left is a teddy bear he never got to snuggle, books from friends about grief, and the ultrasound pictures of their baby-to-be.

"Everything was normal at the 20-week ultrasound," Pierce said. 

Then at 32 weeks, getting another sonogram, they noticed something was very wrong. Cameron had a deadly form of skeletal dysplasia, a rare genetic mutation. 

"He was breaking bones inside of me," Pierce said. "I was just so horrified that he had been suffering. That is what was so upsetting."

She said she knew right away that she could not give birth to her second child, but in Maine—she would have to.

State law does not allow abortion after the point of viability, between 24 to 28 weeks. Dana said she and her husband had to pay $40,000 and travel across the country to a clinic in Colorado to get the care she needed. 

"I remember pretty immediately once I realized that I had to leave Maine and once I figure out how much it was going to cost, I was so angry," she said.

It was that story that inspired Gov. Janet Mills, D-Maine, to take action.

This week Mills and Democratic leaders in Augusta announced new sweeping abortion protections, including a bill to allow for the procedure if a doctor deems it medically necessary, regardless of the stage of pregnancy. 

"I have repeatedly said that the decision to have an abortion should be made by a woman in consultation with her medical provider, and no one else," Mills said in a press conference Tuesday.

Since the announcement, there has been a lot of pushback from both Republicans and religious leaders. 

"They're upstairs talking about how to expand abortion and kill more fetuses. Apparently, that's their priority," Senate Minority Leader Trey Stewart, R-Aroostook, said Tuesday. 

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland released a statement calling Mills' proposal "radical" and "extreme."

"It is beyond troubling to see how denying the existence of a human life has become so casual for this governor and members of the legislature," Bishop Robert Deeley wrote.

For Pierce, it is an issue that she said should not have to be political. It is one that will now and forever be deeply personal. 

"They obviously [think] they're fighting for good and doing the right thing, but they're hurting people even more," she said.

The bills proposed by Mills still have to go before the legislature where there is expected to be fierce debate. 

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