AUGUSTA — A proposal to allow families to file wrongful-death lawsuits after a fetus dies is sparking disagreement in Maine, where some say the measure is an attack on reproductive rights.

Backers of the bill say it’s a way for families to seek financial damages when a fetus dies due to neglect or default by a person such as a driver, manufacturer or doctor. It exempts legal abortions. Forty states allow families to pursue wrongful-death lawsuits when an unborn viable fetus dies.

But the Portland Press Herald reports opponents say it’s unnecessary under Maine law and could be an attempt by anti-abortion groups to restrict a woman’s right to an abortion.

Supporters include insurance companies, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland and the Christian Civic League of Maine. The Maine Women’s Lobby opposes it.

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