Demonstrators protest outside the federal courthouse in Portland on Tuesday, May 3, 2022, against an anticipated U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe Vs, Wade. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

Maine abortion providers are expecting longer waits and working to increase staffing after the Supreme Court’s Friday decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is triggering bans or other restrictions in other states.

The conservative court’s ruling in a Mississippi case has been anticipated since a draft opinion was leaked in May. Maine has a liberal set of abortion laws, meaning access here is protected for now, and the state may not see an influx due to its remote geographic location.

Two abortion providers said the ruling will likely lead to more people traveling the Maine from out of state. It could affect not just wait times for abortion care, but other services that are typically provided by health centers that provide reproductive and sexual health care.

“We are seeing more people from out of state and wait times are getting longer,” said Abbie Strout, the director of education for the Mabel Wadsworth Center in Bangor.

It is difficult to tell how Roe’s overturning will affect the Bangor center, Strout said. The center was already hiring more people and training doctors and nurse practitioners to provide abortions and could add more days as well.

Providers began preparing for for the rollback of federal protections of abortion rights after the high court upheld a Texas ban on abortions after six weeks, said Nicole Clegg, the senior vice president of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England.

The passage of a ban on abortions after six weeks in Texas last year gave providers more time to prepare for an influx of out of state travelers, said Nicole Clegg, the senior vice president of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. Even before that, Maine providers reported increasingly seeing patients from out of state.

Exactly why is hard to say. While Maine has some of the strongest abortion rights in the country, Clegg said some people might travel to Maine because they have a connection to it or find it more accessible from a major airport. She expected higher concentrations of visitors from states closer to Maine with anti-abortion laws, such as West Virginia or Ohio.

Planned Parenthood has trained hotline staff to answer more questions from people out of state. It is also preparing to expand its abiilty to give abortions in the second trimester because people traveling from further away may struggle to arrange an abortion within the first trimester, which ends after 12 weeks. Abortions are legal until viability here, generally around 24 weeks.

But Planned Parenthood will also work to try and find care for people closer to their home states when possible. Clegg noted that high gas prices and the cost of airfare could prove to be barriers.

“I think that folks are largely going to be making decisions based on what they can afford, which is just tragic, because we know that people with the least amount of resources are going to get the least amount of care,” she said.