MAINE, Maine — As soon as the supreme court issued its decision to overturn Roe V. Wade, many states began the process of fully banning abortion or adding new restrictions, which means some people will now have to travel out of their home states to access abortion care.
Planned Parenthood of Northern New England has four clinics in Maine. Nicole Clegg, senior vice president of public affairs, said its offices in Maine have received a lot of phone calls from out-of-staters asking about the abortion services available here.
Clegg said the public abortion care provider has already treated about a dozen out-of-staters who have come to Maine for abortion services after Roe V. Wade was overturned, requiring them to seek services elsewhere.
"What we learned is that people were planning on getting an abortion in their state, and then the decision came down, and then all of the sudden they were in a position of trying to find care wherever they could, that meant some folks found their way to Maine," Clegg added.
She said she expects Maine will continue to see an influx of people seeking abortion services.
Typically when someone calls the offices in need of an abortion service, Clegg said they try to accommodate the person to their nearest abortion clinic where they can receive safe and legal abortion care. In some cases, that option can be one of its clinics in Maine.
"I think there are a variety of reasons why someone might come to Maine," Clegg said. "They could have a personal connection, they could have a support system here that would be available to them, but also it could be that the appointment that they need within the time that they are looking for is one that's available here. It's just a real tragedy, and it's causing considerable harm to the people living in these states that they have to think about getting on an airplane or traveling hundreds of miles to get the care they need."
Clegg said abortion clinics here in Maine have been preparing for this possibility for nearly a year. The goal is to meet the patient's needs no matter where they come from.
Mareisa Weil is the vice president for development and community engagement with Maine Family Planning.
"Millions of people are going to be denied the essential abortion care they need for whatever reason it is that they need it," Weil said. "This is going to most harm people who are already harmed by our systems."
Weil said this ban is going to be especially harmful to Black, Indigenous, Latin, poor, youth, and LGBTQ plus folks.
Weil said people will have to come to Maine to receive any type of safe and legal abortion care, including getting the prescribed abortion pills.
"We are prepared to offer abortion care in Maine to people who need it no matter where they are traveling or visiting from," Weil said.
All three public abortion care providers here in Maine, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England with four clinics in Maine, Maine Family Planning with 18 clinics in Maine, and the Mabel Wadsworth Center in Bangor operates one clinic. All are prepared to help out-of-staters who are seeking abortion services.
"What we suspect might happen is that Portland will see a lot of increased demand," Weil said. "We have clinics in Lewiston, Augusta, Norway, Damariscotta, Calais, up in the county in Presque Isle and Houlton, and so we are anticipating that there will be a systemwide impact felt by the dramatic influx in patients in Portland seeking abortion care."