Sponsored by Senate President Beth Edmonds, the bill would require the state to pay for abortions for women covered by MaineCare, the state’s version of Medicaid.
The federal-state program for the poor, elderly and disabled currently covers abortion only in cases of rape, incest or when a woman’s life is at risk.
Edmonds, a Democrat from Freeport, said she had long favored expanding eligibility and that now, in her final Senate term, the time had come to try.
Opponents held a rally on the front steps of the State House in advance of a public hearing before the Legislature Health and Human Services Committee.
Among the speakers was Roman Catholic Bishop Richard Malone of the Diocese of Portland.