Natalie Parent (left), of Portland, and Lauren Roderigues, of New York City, are worried about the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn fundamental abortion rights, despite living in likely protected states. Their concerns include potential further erosion of human rights and the safety of other women across the country. Halina Bennet/Staff Writer

Several young people on the streets of Portland met Friday’s Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade with a mix of disappointment and fear.

For their entire lives, the right to an abortion has been federally protected. For the first time, they are facing a world in which the procedure will become illegal in many parts of the United States.

While some were stunned, others said they weren’t surprised by the decision. Kira Ohmart, visiting Portland from Atlanta, said people who can get pregnant have been experiencing reproductive oppression for a long time, despite Roe v. Wade being in place.

“Mortality rates in people giving birth and rates of forced sterilization in folks of color is staggering compared to white folks,” she said. “There’s a lot of white women who are really fired up right now. But it’s like, ‘why are we fired up right now and haven’t been for like the last 20 years?’ This is something that I am fearful about, but it’s not a new thing.”

Kira Ohmart isn’t surprised by the court’s decision. The visitor from Atlanta said those who can get pregnant, particularly people of color, have been experiencing reproductive oppression since the beginning. Halina Bennet/Staff Writer

Ohmart also stressed that this is not just a women’s health issue. Rather, it affects everyone who can get pregnant or impregnate. 

“This is about women. But it is also about nonbinary and trans people,” she said. “It is an everyone’s health issue.”


Natalie Parent said going after abortion rights should not be the top priority for the U.S. government.

“This decision is so out of touch,” the 25-year-old Portland resident said. “They need to take care of the children that are here and come up with a plan for climate change, gun control and overpopulation. Sexual education in this country sucks. There are a bunch of kids in foster care that are getting abused every day. What about them? It’s just a joke.”

Jack Doran, a 21-year-old Syracuse University student visiting the city, expressed his disappointment that the landmark case he learned about in high school has been overturned. He remembers being surprised that something so progressive for its time had passed. Now, he is worried about the future of American democracy.

“This feels like an incredible setback. I remember thinking it was so cool that the government would protect people like that,” Doran said. “The fact that they can just get rid of it without listening to the (voices of) the people is really messed up.”

Portland resident Hillary Connor, 18, is headed off to Smith College in Massachusetts in the fall and is planning to study political science. Speaking Friday, Connor said she is upset that human rights have become so political. Halina Bennet/Staff Writer

Hillary Connor, who intends to study political science when she starts at Smith College in the fall, said she feels helpless and frustrated because human rights have become a partisan political issue, rather than the cultural norm. She worries the ruling will have a snowball effect, bringing other, similar decisions in its wake. 

“It really frightens me that other women’s rights, LGBTQ+ rights and other civil rights are in jeopardy after this decision,” Connor said. “I am so worried about what government officials decide is next on the chopping block.”


Newly 18, Connor intends to use her vote to make a difference in the future by researching and voting for candidates based on their platforms. She also mentioned social media as a powerful tool for educating peers and spreading awareness of rights in jeopardy.

Connor and Lauren Roderigues, who was visiting Portland from New York, said social media is a complicated but important means of communication for their generation. 

“It’s totally performative. But it’s also useful,” Roderigues said. “Brands and accounts I follow have been posting about this all day and trying to spread awareness. It doesn’t do much, but if it begins to educate someone, that’s worth it.” 

Cousins Petmanee Nakummun, 17, (left) and Phonsavahn Senesombath, 22, stopped for a cold drink Friday in Portland. They aren’t worried about themselves so much as they are about low-income women of color across the country. Halina Bennet/Staff Writer

Jacqueline Hart, Annavitte Rand and Caitlin Patterson, co-workers in their 30s at a local engineering firm, were the only women present in their office Friday. They decided to leave the male-dominated space for lunch to discuss the ruling.

Patterson said she isn’t concerned for her own rights so much as the rights of women in more socially conservative states.

Lower-income people and people of color are going to be hit so hard by this decision,” she said. “Not so much here in the northern states, but in some of the other ones that have more conservative local politics that don’t necessarily value human rights issues. Many of those women don’t have the same access we do, and they won’t be able to leave their state for medical attention or proper care.”


Parent said she fears that without access to proper care, people seeking abortions will resort to unsafe methods.

“I think the scariest thing is that it’s not going to stop women from having abortions,” she said. “It’s just going to stop a safe way to do it. The amount of women that are going to potentially die is terrifying.”

South Portland resident Petmanee Nakummun said that, at 17, she is numb to news like this and hopeless about the future. 

“It’s really hard to see the bright side of things, especially after what life has been the last three years with COVID and racially motivated attacks and everything,” Nakummun said. “It’s impossible to see the bright (side) when no example has been put forth for us.”

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