The University of Maine's student senate has established a fund to assist students in obtaining legal abortions in New York.
The $5000 fund, believed to be the first of its kind in the country, was set up in December with money from student activity fees. It was inspired by a series of lectures by birth-control advocate William Baird.
The fund may provide up to $400 per person for travel expenses to New York and doctor's fees. All loans must be approved by a student subcommittee set up for this purpose. Four loans have been given so far this year. There is no specific schedule for repayment, and no interest will be charged.
All business is done on a confidential basis. Only one person on the subcommittee knows an applicant's identity.
According to Steve Gottlieb, administrative assistant to the president of the student senate, the local district attorney is threatening to take legal steps "to shut this down." So far, no formal action has been taken.
The University of Maine has taken a hands-off position, since no university funds are involved.
Abortions are illegal in Maine, although a bill has been introduced to repeal the ban. The governor of Maine stated that he saw nothing illegal in the students' loan fund.
The university's Student Health Director reported that since the loan program went into effect the number of students with post-abortion complications has dropped.