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Vox Sentences: Maine moves to expand abortion access

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Maine will soon allow non-doctors to perform abortions; the result of a controversial Kazakh election is seen as an extension of the country’s authoritarian regime.

Wins for reproductive rights

Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images
  • The governor of Maine signed a bill on Monday that would expand the type of medical practitioners who can perform abortions. [Portland Press Herald / Kevin Miller]
  • Under the new bill, which will go into effect in September, physician assistants and advanced practice registered nurses will be able to perform in-clinic abortions or provide abortion medication. Before the legislation, only physicians were allowed to perform abortions. [The Hill / Justin Wise]
  • Maine is the second state after California to allow non-doctors to provide in-clinic abortions. Almost two dozen states, including Vermont and New Hampshire, have expanded the scope of professionals who can administer abortion medication. [AP]
  • Gov. Janet Mills said the measure will help women in rural areas access critical reproductive health services. Only three cities in Maine — Augusta, Bangor, and Portland — provide aspiration abortion, which is a procedure that involves suction. [NYT / Jacey Fortin]
  • Critics, however, have criticized the bill as a political move because there is no data that women are having a hard time accessing reproductive health care due to proximity. [Fox News / Lukas Mikelionis]
  • They also say that allowing more health professionals to perform the procedure will make it less safe, especially because they don’t think practitioners will have enough practice by September to perform abortions. Many, however, have said that abortion is one of the safest medical procedures and the restriction is outdated. [AP]
  • Maine wasn’t the only win for reproduction rights on Monday: Vermont also passed a bill that protects abortions rights by law. [ABC News / Meghan Keneally and Alexandra Svokos]
  • These moves are in opposition to the recent trend of conservative states, including Alabama, Ohio, and Georgia, restricting reproduction rights. [CNN / Eli Watkins]

Elections are seen as an extension of Kazakhstan’s authoritarian regime

  • The handpicked successor of former Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev has won an election tightly controlled by the government amid waves of pro-democracy protests. [France 24]
  • Some background: Nazarbayev had been the country’s only leader since 1991 after it emerged following the fall of the Soviet Union. He resigned in March — although he will stay as head of the governing party — and appointed his loyal ally Kassym-Jomart Tokayev as interim president. [BBC]
  • Tokayev won the election by 70.76 percent, while opposition candidate Amirzhan Kosanov trailed with 16.2 percent. This is the first time since 2005 that a candidate has openly represented himself as the opposition. [Guardian / Joanna Lillis]
  • Monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, however, criticized the election for its lack of regard for “fundamental rights.” Tokayev has disregarded these accusations. [Reuters / Tamara Vaal and Mariya Gordeyeva]
  • About 500 people were detained during the election on Sunday, despite having protested peacefully. The government also shut down Facebook and the messaging app Telegram for hours on election day. [Reuters]
  • Pro-democracy protestors said they want a fair election and to break free from the grip of former senior Communist Party officials. [Eurasianet / Joanna Lillis and Danil Usmanov]
  • For now, Nazarbayev maintains a tight grip on Kazakhstan, and many expect he will continue to assert his influence behind the scenes. [NYT / Andrew Higgins]


  • Botswana just decriminalized homosexuality. That’s a big win for LGBTQ rights in Africa. [BBC]
  • Research has found that the Alcoholics Anonymous doctrine isn’t always the most effective treatment method. Why do so many people turn to it regardless? [Atlantic / Gabrielle Glaser]
  • In Texas, children’s right to open a lemonade stand is now protected by law. [CNN / Leanna Faulk and Amanda Watts]
  • French President Emmanuel Macron and US President Donald Trump planted a friendship tree to celebrate their bromance last year, but the relationship has since soured. It seems like the universe has quite the sense of humor: The tree is now dead too. [Washington Post / James McAuley]
  • Could a material made from cactus leaves become a potential alternative to single-use plastic? [Futurism / Dan Robitzski]


“Wake up, Kazakh! Think, Kazakh! Be, Kazakh! We are a nation that has forgotten its freedom.” [A 1909 Kazakh poem written during Russian colonial rule that has inspired protests]

Watch this: China’s panda diplomacy, explained

China’s best diplomats are the ones that sit around and eat bamboo all day. [YouTube / Nicholas Garbaty and Dara Lind]

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