Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, left, speaks with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., as senators arrive before a procedural vote on the Women's Health Protection Act to codify the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, May 11, 2022. Credit: J. Scott Applewhite / AP

When a handful of pro-abortion rights messages appeared in front of Susan Collins’ Bangor home last weekend, the reaction from Maine’s 2nd District Republican senator became the watercooler topic of the week.

The initial message, which was reported to police by Collins on Saturday, read “Susie, please, Mainers want WHPA —–> vote yes, clean up your mess,” according to the Bangor Police Department.

The statement was soon gone after Collins had involved local law enforcement to remove “the defacement of public property,” Collins told the Bangor Daily News.

Thomas Daffron, Collins’ husband, told the BDN that she called authorities because the Bangor police advised her to call them if anything “unusual happened” due to death threats she received in the past.

Pro abortion rights and pro freedom of speech messages appeared on the sidewalk outside Susan Collins’ Bangor home on May 10, 2022 after she complained to police and public works washed away a pro-abortion rights messages on May 7, 2022. Credit: Lia Russell / BDN

But just a day after the initial messages were found, more chalk messages appeared.

Phrases like “If I don’t own my body…what do I own?”, “You work for us!,” “There are more variables than just birth,” “You might not recognize our right to free speech, but I hope you recognize my right to an abortion,” “FOR WOMAN,” “S.O.S. – Save Us Susie,” “Blessed be the First Amendment,” “Vote for WHPA,” “Education is pivotal” and “Mainers for abortion rights,” appeared Tuesday, the Bangor Daily News reported.

But the women who started the chalk messages didn’t expect to see such a reaction.

“It was just two women fed up with not being able to talk to their representative, and it’s a beautiful day, so we grabbed some chalk and took to the streets,” the woman, who asked to be identified as Jane, told Buzzfeed News.

The woman said that the goal wasn’t for hundreds of thousands of people to see the message, which spread quickly on Twitter — shared by Stephen King and state Rep. Amy Roeder — and other social media platforms. She and a friend only wanted to connect with Collins, their Bangor neighbor.

She intended the message to be a last-ditch effort to encourage Collins to vote in favor of the Women’s Health Protection Act — which failed in the Senate on Wednesday with 51-49 against proceeding, with 60 votes needed to move ahead. Collins voted against moving the issue forward.  

Instead of waiting for Collins to respond to her concerns about the issue, Jane took things into her own hands: She texted an artist friend and ordered a 24-box of bold chalk from Target, she told Buzzfeed.

Pro abortion rights and pro freedom of speech messages appeared on the sidewalk outside Susan Collins’ Bangor home on May 10, 2022 after she complained to police and public works washed away a pro-abortion rights messages on May 7, 2022. Credit: Lia Russell / BDN

After she found that the initial messages were removed, Jane returned to the sidewalk in front of Collins’ to write more. However, she allegedly had a confrontation with Daffron — which was recorded and reviewed by Buzzfeed — who called Jane and her friend “idiots,” Buzzfeed reported.

Jane later saw Daffron washing the messages away himself, and Sgt. Wade Betters of the Bangor police told Buzzfeed that the department had not been notified a second time.

Jane had one takeaway from the ordeal: “At least I know that she stood on her porch and read the words that we wrote…She heard what we had to say,” Buzzfeed reported.


Leela Stockley

Leela Stockley is an alumna of the University of Maine. She was raised in northern Maine, and loves her cat Wesley, her puppy Percy and staying active in the Maine outdoors.