Maine Democratic Gov. Janet Mills signed a bill on Monday authorizing two non-doctor categories of medical professionals to perform abortions.
The legislation introduced earlier this year will allow both physician assistants and advanced practice registered nurses to perform abortions, which Mills said in a statement would increase access to abortion services for Maine women “especially those in rural areas.”
“These health care professionals are trained in family planning, counseling and abortion procedures, the overwhelming majority of which are completed without complications,” Mills said.
Maine’s move to expand authorized abortion providers stood in contrast to a wave of anti-abortion measures passed recently around the country. Those measures include laws seeking to ban abortions early into a pregnancy – as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detected – and a particularly controversial law in Alabama that would punish doctors who perform abortions with life in prison.
According to the governor’s statement, seven other states allow some non-doctor medical professionals to perform abortions. California expanded its authorization for abortion providers in 2013, with legislation saying nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives and physician assistants with training could perform abortions.
In 2014, “some 81% of Maine counties had no clinics that provided abortions, and 55% of Maine women lived in those counties,” according to the Guttmacher Institute.
CNN’s Madeline Holcombe and Nadia Kounang contributed to this report.