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Where Maine stands on abortion access

Abortion is protected in Maine, but 10 other states have even stronger protections.

PORTLAND, Maine — It's been a little over a month since the U.S. Supreme Court released their decision that effectively ended the nationwide right to abortion. 

Planned Parenthood of Northern New England says it has already assisted least a dozen women from out of state who were seeking abortion care services.

In some cases, the women are traveling hundreds or even thousands of miles from states where abortion is either completely illegal or illegal after six weeks.

Many of those who have been through an abortion say it's not a decision to be made lightly. 

Rachel McCarthy recalls that difficult process.

It was the day before New Years Eve in 2015. She was living in New York City at the time and ultimately decided to have an abortion when she was six weeks pregnant.

"Any feelings of shame that I was worried about, those people at Planned Parenthood really helped me to let those feelings go and do what was right for me at the time," she said.

Since the ruling that effectively overturned Roe v. Wade, those seeking abortion services in more than two dozen states don't have the same option McCarthy had. People seeking abortion services in those states are obligated to find medical treatments elsewhere.

"As of last week, we had seen about a dozen folks come from states like Texas and Ohio," Nicole Clegg, executive director of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, said.

She added that while her team has seen people from other states, most of the folks coming to Maine are coming from Texas and Ohio.

"Some of it is that they have a personal connection or a support system that they can access here. Sometimes it's that we have an appointment that works for their schedule," Clegg added.

According to the Center for Reproductive Rights, there are 10 states where abortion is not only legal, but but protected by additional laws, that can include state constitutional amendments to protect a woman's right to choose.

"We don't know if our state constitution protects abortion rights," Clegg said regarding Maine's legislation.

Clegg says she and her team are hoping the Maine will consider updating its state constitution, for people who want the option like McCarthy.

"The first thing that I always say to people is, if you don't want to have an abortion ... then you don't have to have an abortion," McCarthy said.

Clegg says they are even seeing people from other states come to Maine for other reproductive health services including birth control, STI testing, and other pregnancy services.

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