People listen to speakers during an abortion rights rally at Lincoln Park in Portland on Saturday. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Angry about an expected U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, a crowd of about 500 abortion rights supporters – young and old, men and women – rallied Saturday in Portland’s Lincoln Park.

On a Congress Street sidewalk, rally attendees held signs including: “My body, my choice!”‘ and “The Hardest Decision a Woman Can Make Isn’t Yours,” and “Your fault Susan Collins.”

As traffic whizzed by the people with signs, vehicles’ horns beeped.

Saturday was a “Bans Off Our Bodies” day of action across the country. In Maine, the Portland rally was held by the Planned Parenthood Maine Action Fund.

A woman holds a sign while attending an abortion rights rally at Lincoln Park in Portland on Saturday. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Zoe Reich of Portland stepped up to the microphone and shared why she had an abortion.

“I wish I didn’t have to be here. I needed abortion care,” she said.

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Years ago she and her husband were happy with her first pregnancy, but “that pregnancy took a devastating turn when severe fetal indications were detected during a routine scan later in my pregnancy,” she said. At the time she lived in New York state. Her pregnancy was past the legal limits for her to have an abortion there, she said.

“I was at the most vulnerable moment in my life,” Reich said. “My husband and I had just been given heart-wrenching news,” and doctors could not help her. To end the pregnancy she had to go out of state for an abortion. She got on a plane, traveled across the country to one of the few facilities “that could legally provide the health care I so desperately needed,” she said, then paused.

“Because, abortion is health care!”

The crowd cheered.

Sydney Sansouci of Portland holds up a sign to passing traffic during an abortion rights rally at Lincoln Park in Portland on Saturday. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Others in a situation like hers may not be able to afford the care she received, she said, adding that the timing of an abortion should not be decided by politicians and others who are not doctors. “I was devastated and heartbroken that my pregnancy outcome was not what I wanted, but I was relieved that I had a path to a safe and legal abortion.” Her abortion was sad, but a blessing, allowing her to go on and have two, healthy children, she added.

Any restriction on abortion hurts someone’s family, Reich said. Now, in the face of the possible loss of legal abortion in many states, millions will be hurt, Reich said.

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Nicole Clegg of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England asked the crowd, “Are you mad?”

“Yes!” the crowd answered.

“Ready to do something?”

Yes!”

Kathy Sharpless of Yarmouth holds a sign while listening to speakers during an abortion rights rally at Lincoln Park in Portland on Saturday. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

In the wake of the recent leak of a Supreme Court draft decision that would overturn Roe v. Wade and leave abortion to the states, 26 states face the loss of legal abortion.

That would have a deep impact, Clegg said. “One in every four women will have an abortion in their lifetime,” she said. “And know that 80 percent of this country believe that Roe v. Wade should stand.” The decision would disproportionately hurt people of color and those financially struggling, she added. “They’re going to be faced with making dangerous, risky decision for their health,” Clegg said. “We have to fight.”

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More cheers.

Maine is lucky that its state lawmakers and governors, “for the most part, have been supportive of abortion rights,” Clegg said. Current Maine law will protect abortion rights if Roe v. Wade is overturned next month, Clegg said. But things can change with an election, she noted.

Kimara Jebb of Portland, who works as a physician assistant in emergency medicine, holds a sign up to passing traffic at an abortion rights rally at Lincoln Park on Saturday. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

If there’s an anti-choice governor next year, or if a majority in the state Senate and House oppose reproductive rights, “our rights can be taken away,” Clegg said. “Elections matter.”

Democratic Gov. Janet Mills has pledged to protect reproductive rights, while her challenger, former Republican Gov. Paul LePage, has spoken against abortion and recently issued a statement of support for existing abortion restrictions. The Maine Republican Party has declined to answer questions about the Supreme Court’s leaked draft opinion.

People need to talk about abortion, Clegg said. “We can’t be afraid anymore to say the word abortion. We all have to come together and talk about it.”

After the rally volunteers knocked on doors, asked those who support Roe v. Wade to call U.S. Susan Collins, R-Maine, about her nonsupport for the Women’s Health Protection Act, and urged people to sign pledge cards to vote for candidates who support abortion rights.


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