Councilor Anna Turcotte, left, co-wrote a city proclamation to protect abortion access that was approved Monday. Councilor Victor Chau, right, was the sole dissenting vote, saying that abortion access is not a municipal issue and voting to support it wouldn’t serve his constituents. Chance Viles / American Journal

Westbrook is taking steps to ensure that city employees continue to have access to abortion, following the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 24 decision to overturn Roe v Wade.

The plan was announced during a June 11 meeting of the city council that also saw the passage of a proclamation supporting the right to “all aspects of reproductive health” if state lawmakers ever move to outlaw abortion in Maine.

Mayor Mike Foley’s proposal to ensure abortion access for employees will be discussed at a future council meeting. If passed, the proposal ensures that if abortion was outlawed in Maine, city employees would be reimbursed for expenses related to out-of-state travel to access the procedure.

“No matter where our employees are on their family planning journey, from contraception and abortion coverage to pregnancy and family-building support through fertility, surrogacy, adoption benefits and paid parental leave we are here to support their decisions,” Foley said.


The City Council proclamation, though not binding, looks to make a statement that the council will continue to help protect the right to an abortion for local women, Turcotte said.

State representative Sue Salisbury, who is also chairperson of the Westbrook School Committee, spoke in favor of a city council proclamation that vows to support access to abortion. Chance Viles / American Journal

“WHEREAS, the Westbrook City Council stands with all people and their right to access safe and affordable healthcare, including all aspects of reproductive health; and WHEREAS, we support a person’s right to privacy in every aspect of family planning,” the proclamation reads, in part.


The proclamation was approved 4-1, and saw around 30 residents coming out in support on June 11, including state Reps. Sue Salisbury and Morgan Rielly.

“You do not need to be in favor of abortion to support this; it is about a women’s right to choose,” Salisbury said.

While the right to abortion is now protected in Maine, Councilor Anna Turcotte noted that could change depending on who is elected to the governor’s office and the Legislature come November.

Gov. Janet Mills signed an Executive Order July 5 “to further safeguard access to abortion in Maine and to protect Maine health care providers who provide reproductive health care and their patients.”

Her opponent in November, former Gov. Paul LePage, a Republican who has said he opposes abortion, also said last month that he would not try to overturn or restrict the right to abortion in Maine, according to the Portland Press Herald. However, LePage refused to promise that he wouldn’t sign an anti-abortion bill if he returns to the Blaine House.

Under Maine law, a woman’s “private decision to terminate a pregnancy” can’t be restricted before viability, barring some exemptions that pertain to minors. After viability, abortions may be performed only to protect the life and/or health of the mother. The law also moves to protect doctors who perform the procedure.



Westbrook’s proclamation is a pledge that the current council will support reproductive rights, as opposed to a proclamation that just observes or acknowledges an accomplishment, issue or personal achievement.

City Councilor Jennifer Munro brought forward the council proclamation to protect abortion rights in collaboration with council president Anna Turcotte. Chance Viles / American Journal

While it doesn’t call for specific action, Turcotte said the proclamation vows that the council will take action should the state of Maine limit women’s access to abortion.

Turcotte, Jennifer Munro, David Morse and Gary Rairdon voted in support of the measure.

Councilor Victor Chau was opposed, saying abortion is not a municipal issue, and to represent all constituents, he must think of those who are against abortion.

Councilors Mike Shaughnessy and Claude Rwaganje were absent.

“I feel it is not the city’s place,” Chau said. “I don’t know how passing this represents our constituents. If I was a constituent on the other side of this, how would I feel if the city passed this against my beliefs?”


The majority of public comments were focused on abortion as a local issue.

“You say this isn’t city business; I ask how it is not,” resident Liz McLellan said. “By voting for this you stand up as leaders.”

Planning Board member John Turcotte, who is married to Council President Anna Turcotte, said the couple has utilized abortion to save Anna Turcotte’s life when doctors realized a compromised pregnancy could prove lethal.

“This is a Westbrook issue because it is personal,” John Turcotte said. “We don’t give up rights in America.”

Munro shared a similar story.

“Personally, I have had several miscarriages requiring medical (abortion). I don’t know what would have happened if I didn’t. It is unfortunate that we have to explain why we need to vocally speak up locally,” Munro said.

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