Susan Burnham had an abortion at a Bar Harbor clinic in 1979. At 27, she knew she didn’t want to become a parent and was relieved that she could make that choice after the Supreme Court had guaranteed the right to abortion six years before.
The news that the U.S. Supreme Court appeared poised to roll back that case after Politico published a leaked draft of a court opinion from Justice Samuel Alito that called Roe v. Wade “egregiously wrong” shocked Burnham.
“I never thought it would be rolled back in my lifetime,” she said. “I’m not sure whether I’m more furious or insulted.”
For Burnham, the leaked opinion draft signaled that a majority of the Supreme Court thought “women don’t have the sensibility or right to make decisions for themselves.”
Burnham, who lives in Bethel, is one of several Mainers who expressed their outrage and shock at the opinion, which is not a final decision.
Abbie Strout, the director of community engagement at the Mabel Wadsworth Center in Bangor, said that Mainers couldn’t take reproductive rights for granted in Maine after Republicans pledged to curtail abortion rights if elected in November.
Around 50 people gathered at the Margaret Chase federal building on Harlow Street in Bangor on Tuesday afternoon for a rally the center organized. Those who were interviewed said they were rallying to demonstrate their support for bodily autonomy and because they or someone they knew had an abortion.
Down in Portland, speakers with bullhorns, including City Councilor Victoria Pelletier and local Planned Parenthood spokesperson Nicole Clegg, urged the crowd of 300 to pressure lawmakers to keep abortion legal.
The protest at the federal courthouse lasted most of an hour and ended with the crowd chanting slogans including “abortion is health care” and “abortion is a human right.”
Rep. Laura Supica, D-Bangor, said she was rallying for future generations so they could have access to abortions. Supica received an abortion at 19, and said she was fortunate to have access to reproductive care and a network of loving, supportive people to help her recover.
Supica said she was preparing a bill that would make Maine a safe haven state for people from out of state seeking abortions.
Both Hannah Devoe and Kali Mackay said they were there because they believed in women’s rights to make decisions about their bodies.
Devoe also said that as a transgender woman, she receives hormonal replacement therapy through Mabel Wadsworth, which she couldn’t find elsewhere if the clinic were forced to shut down due to anti-abortion laws.
Mackay said she was “horrified but not surprised” by the decision, and that she hoped more men would join the reproductive justice movement because abortion access is an issue that affects everyone, not just those who give birth.
“Just because [men] can’t get an abortion, doesn’t mean it can’t affect their lives,” Mackay said.
Lucien Tibbetts was one of a handful of men who attended. He said he was there because Roe’s reversal would impact people close to him.
“It’s an absolutely political thing to revoke 50 years of precedent on little or no legal basis,” he said of Alito’s draft opinion. “It’s an abuse of the legal system.”