MAINE, USA — This story is developing and will be updated throughout the day as more information becomes available.
Many Maine leaders have spoken out against the Supreme Court's decision Friday on Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, which resulted in effectively overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade case that allowed for legalized abortion in the U.S.
Political leaders and Maine women's health organizations have expressed that the decision to overturn women's abortion rights is "tragic," "chilling," and "devastating."
Planned Parenthood Maine issued a news release, stating their view on the "devastating decision."
Vice President of Public Affairs at Planned Parenthood Maine Action Fund Nicole Clegg stated the following in the release:
“By overturning Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court has now officially given politicians permission to control what we do with our bodies, deciding that we can no longer be trusted to determine the course for our own lives. This dangerous and chilling decision will have devastating consequences across the country, forcing people to travel hundreds, sometimes thousands, of miles for care or remain pregnant.
“To be clear, abortion is still legal in Maine. But laws can be changed. Paul LePage is hostile to abortion rights as are a number of Maine politicians. If a majority of anti-abortion politicians take control of the legislature or the Blaine House, they could pass laws restricting or even banning abortion here in Maine. Maine people overwhelmingly want abortion to remain legal. We must hold our candidates and elected officials accountable and ensure they will not only keep abortion legal in Maine, but work to make abortion more accessible for all.”
Planned Parenthood Maine added in their release that regardless of the Supreme Court's decision today, women can still book an appointment at their location in Portland.
The Mabel Wadsworth Center in Bangor, a women's health center that offers abortion services, also echoed their continued support for women's abortion rights in Maine.
The women's health center posted on Facebook that they are "outraged," stating the following in their post:
"We are outraged! Today’s decision by the Supreme Court is a shattering blow to the right to access abortion in the U.S., leaving even more people struggling to access the essential health care they need. Abortion remains legal in Maine and available at our clinic in Bangor; no one should have to travel for care, but we are here when and if you need us. Our fight to maintain and expand access to abortion continues and we will keep fighting until every person, no matter where we live, how much money we make, or what we look like, has the freedom to make our own decisions about our lives and futures. Abortion is our right."
The Maine Nurse Practitioner Association is equally as much of an advocate for women's abortion rights as Planned Parenthood Maine and the Mabel Wadsworth Center.
The association issued a news release stating the following regarding Friday's court ruling:
"The United States Supreme Court voted today, in its decision in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization, to take a woman’s right to safe and autonomous reproductive health care back into the 18th century. Roe v Wade has been settled law since 1973, preserving the absolutely essential and foundational right to self-determination and reproductive freedom.
"The mission of the Maine Nurse Practitioner Association is to advocate for the health of all the people of Maine. In so doing, MNPA recognizes abortion as essential healthcare and supports the current law, the Maine Reproductive Privacy Act.
"As we have seen today, established law can be dismantled in the blink of an eye and at the behest of ideologues. The best protection of the Reproductive Privacy Act, as well as advocacy for the health of all Maine citizens, rests in the vote of each and every one of us,” Constance Jordan, MSN, ANP, PMHNP and Board President of the Maine Nurse Practitioner Association, said. “The Maine Nurse Practitioner Association affirms and commits to protection of the right to reproductive health care rights for all individuals in the state of Maine, stands with our colleagues at Maine Family Planning, the Mabel Wadsworth Center and Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and urges the citizens of Maine to uphold these essential rights with their vote in November."
Maine political leaders have also expressed their opinions against the Supreme Court decision.
Portland Mayor Kate Snyder called the decision "unnecessary" in a news release issued by city of Portland spokesperson Jessica Grondin. Snyder made the following statement in the release:
"While many of us feared the Supreme Court was moving toward overturning the long-standing constitutional protections for abortions and reproductive freedom, I am still in shock and disbelief they would abandon this precedent. This is a reprehensible decision, one that is an unnecessary assault on women and those who have a uterus. We have real problems in this country, major issues that our leaders should be working to address. And yet here we are, in 2022, still buying into the notion that abortion is a problem we need to solve.
"Reproductive freedoms should not be a state by state decision. While I am thankful that abortion will still be legal in Maine, and thankful for Governor Mills’ commitment to uphold that right, I am saddened that this decision will harm those who aren’t as privileged to have safe and timely access to the healthcare they deserve. And I’m afraid of what this decision means for the other landmark cases that currently hold precedent in our country."
Former Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe took to Twitter opposing the decision. She tweeted the following:
"This devastating decision rolling back a half-century of precedent on a woman’s constitutional right to make her own decision is a travesty of justice. It is inconceivable that, in 21st century America, we have arrived at this tragic and undeniable retrenchment of women’s rights."
Maine Senate Democrats have expressed through a news release that they "will fight back against efforts to undermine abortion rights and stand united for reproductive freedom."
The Maine Legislature Office of the Senate President issued a news release including statements in response to the court ruling from Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, Senate Majority Leader Eloise Vitelli, D-Arrowsic, and Assistant Senate Majority Leader Mattie Daughtry, D-Brunswick.
Senate President Jackson's statement in the release is as follows:
"Unfortunately, today’s devastating decision made by a conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court to restrict the right to an abortion and erode almost 50 years of precedent does not come as a shock. However, that doesn’t make this reality any easier to swallow nor does it do much to alleviate the fear that millions of Mainers and Americans are experiencing.
“The right to decide if and when to start a family is fundamental to who we are as Americans and our freedom. It’s a deeply personal decision that should not be made by politicians or justices. In the wake of this decision, please know that Maine Senate Democrats will fight back against efforts to undermine abortion rights and stand united for reproductive freedom.”
Senate Majority Leader Vitelli stated the following in the release:
“There are those of us who remember a time before Roe v. Wade — when people were forced to go underground and put their lives on the line to access an abortion. Far too many of us know far too well that banning abortion doesn’t stop people from getting abortions, it just stops people from getting safe abortions. This ruling from the Supreme Court is unconscionable.
"Rather than protecting the sanctity of life, it will only endanger the lives of everyday people. I vowed in my youth to fight for the right to access abortion care, and it’s clear this fight is far from over. I join with countless people across our state when I say, despite this decision handed down to us from Washington, Maine will not go back.”
Assistant Senate Majority Leader Daughtry's statement in the release is as follows:
“Abortion is health care, and health care is a human right. No health care decision is made easier or better by having a politician or judge get in the way. What the Supreme Court has done today will hurt people across our country, but especially those who are already marginalized — people of color, people from low-income households, and people trying to survive domestic abuse.
"I’m proud that our Legislature has done so much in the past few years to ensure Mainers have access to quality reproductive health care, regardless of how much money they make or where they live. Maine lawmakers will continue to do all we can to protect this right, even as those who sit on the highest court of the land fail us.”
Just outside of Maine, political leaders in Maine's neighboring state are also expressing shared reactions, including New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-New Hampshire.
Sen. Shaheen took to Facebook to share her thoughts on the matter, posting the following:
"The highest court in the land failed half of the country today. Like millions of Americans across the country, I am gutted and horrified. Make no mistake: Overturning Roe jeopardizes women’s lives. It won’t stop abortions from happening – it will just make them dangerous. Decisions around when and how to start families belong to us - not politicians and jurists. We cannot accept this dangerous new status quo. We must demand new laws in Congress and across state legislatures to protect women's fundamental freedoms. Today, we grieve. Tomorrow, we fight. - J.S."
Even organizations aside from women's health centers are speaking up regarding the court decision.
Karin Leuthy of the Maine Center for Economic Policy, a nonpartisan policy research organization, says this will not only affect women's health rights but the economic security of Americans as a whole in a news release.
MECEP issued the following statement in the release:
"The US Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v Wade strikes a calamitous blow against decades of legal precedent, dangerously impacting health, privacy, and self-determination for millions of Americans. In doing so, it also strikes a blow to Americans’ ability to manage their economic futures.
"Reproductive rights cannot be separated from economic and workplace rights. Restricting access to comprehensive reproductive care, including abortion, threatens the autonomy, health, and economic stability of working people.
"Abortion bans disproportionately harm Black, Latino, Indigenous, and other people of color, because of this country's legacy of racism and discrimination. Abortion bans strip us of our freedom to control our own body and are a product of the historic and systemic barriers to care that too many communities face every day.
"Maine responded to previous threats to comprehensive reproductive health services by solidifying reproductive protections in Maine law. While there is currently a state law protecting legal abortion in Maine, this decision could put Maine laws at risk.
"Maine’s congressional delegation must stand up for the millions of impacted Americans and their financial stability by pledging now to codify Roe through federal legislation."
Another organization, the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine, spoke against the Supreme Court ruling in a news release calling it "shameful."
The organization stated the following in the release:
"The Supreme Court issued a shameful ruling today overturning Roe v. Wade — the landmark decision recognizing the constitutional right to abortion nearly 50 years ago. Today’s ruling will allow anti-abortion politicians to ban abortion in states across the country which will force countless people to remain pregnant and have children against their will. The ruling in this case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, will set off a chain reaction with states banning abortion and criminalizing essential care throughout entire regions of the country.
"Forcing someone to carry a pregnancy against their will has life-altering consequences, including forcing them to endure serious health risks from continued pregnancy and childbirth, making it harder to escape poverty, derailing their education and career plans, and making it more difficult to leave an abusive partner.
"Abortion access in Maine is protected under state law. The Maine Reproductive Privacy Act makes it the public policy of Maine not to restrict a pregnant person’s exercise of their private decision to terminate a pregnancy. Because of advocacy the ACLU of Maine has done in partnership with abortion providers and other advocates, in 2019 Maine expanded abortion care to people experiencing poverty and people in rural areas. Under state law, MaineCare covers abortion care, so low-income people can access abortions. Maine law also allows advanced practice clinicians, not just doctors, to provide abortions – expanding access and care for people in rural parts of the state."
Additionally, Maine AFL-CIO President Cynthia Phinney issued a statement in a news release expressing that the ruling is a "terrible blow." She stated the following in the release:
"While today’s Supreme Court ruling overturning of Roe v. Wade comes as no surprise to most who paid attention to the most recent supreme court confirmations, it is nevertheless a terrible blow to privacy and freedoms held by women for the past 50 years under Roe. The right to control what happens to her body is a fundamental element of a woman’s economic, emotional and physical security.
“We know from history that this decision will only widen existing racial and economic disparities and that the burdens will fall disproportionately on marginalized and low income women and families. We know from history that the restrictions to health care access and options that this decision allows will cost the lives of women.
“Maine law currently protects women’s reproductive healthcare rights, but they are at risk without the additional constitutional protection that Roe provided. What was already needed – expanded access to affordable childcare and paid family and medical leave, as well as access to good jobs – is now all the more urgent and must be addressed by legislatures and Congress.
“Reproductive rights are fundamentally a health care issue and we believe that health care is a human right. Unions must work extra hard to ensure that workers are guaranteed access to reproductive health care in their collective bargaining agreements, but also that the right to do so is protected by law.
"Maine’s unions remain committed to the fight for gender justice and economic equity for all people."
Now, women's health centers and locals are planning a protest to take place at Portland's City Hall at 5:15 p.m. Friday evening.
Planned Parenthood Maine tweeted their decision to participate in the march, asking people to join them.
In addition to Planned Parenthood Maine, the Mabel Wadsworth Center also spread the word about the rally, posting on Facebook that they are supporting Planned Parenthood Maine, as well as Maine Family Planning, in Friday evening's protest.
Hundreds of people rallied in Portland Friday evening in response to the ruling.
Abortion-rights supporters gathered in front of City Hall raising signs to display their reactions to the Supreme Court ruling.
Gov. Mills made an appearance at the rally, taking to the podium to address the crowd.
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