At least 1,000 people protested on the steps of Portland City Hall on Friday after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

After news broke Friday morning that the U.S. Supreme Court issued the decision in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization, overturning Roe v Wade, Mainers reacted. From the crown of Maine to the busy streets of Portland, the news reverberated.

Here are some of the things Mainers have been saying.

Maine Calling

The live, call-in radio program Maine Calling devoted their show to the decision on Friday. Guest Kevin Miller, a statehouse reporter for Maine Public, recalled how abortion rights supports warned against Justice Brent Kavanaugh being appointed to the Supreme Court.

“There’s going to be a lot of pushback on Sen. Collins. People were saying at the time that she should have known better,” he said. “We’ve seen so much anger and frustration aimed at Sen. Collins … Certainly this is not going to make her standing improve among Democrats.”

Callers recounted their worries and fears.

“I have been an organizer in the reproductive rights world for a little while … When my partner told me the decision was overturned, I just was terrified. I’m a little bit at a loss, frankly … I think about what I have to say to my nieces,” said Leslie from Bangor.

She went on to say she’s particularly concerned for those out of options, who lack access to safe, legal abortion.

“I plan to continue my work to vote every single one of them out who does not protect women’s bodies,” said Leslie.

For others, the stark reality of how legal abortion has helped save lives was staggering.

“My father would never have been born if my grandmother had not been able to get a legal abortion. Her pregnancy would have killed her. … I think it’s a terrible tragedy [that states can prosecute people who seek abortions],” said Davis from Gray.

Ultimately, some callers pointed to this as a reminder of the importance of voting.

“I’ve been shaking since I heard this news. I found it astonishing … I would say that anyone who really values democracy should pay attention and get out and vote,” said Todd in Wells.

Dmitri Bam, vice dean and provost of the University of Maine School of Law, agreed.

“If the people of Maine feel strongly that there should be a constitutional amendment, go out to the polls,” Bam said.


Chuck Unger of Pownal participates in an anti-abortion protest outside a Planned Parenthood in Monument Square in Portland on Friday, shortly after the Supreme Court announced it had overturned Roe v. Wade in a landmark decision on abortion. Unger said the battle over abortion for him was moral, not legal, and it would take generations to change lax attitudes toward terminating a pregnancy that way. Credit: David Marino Jr. / BDN

As news spread in Portland, the first reaction of Nakia Pickering, a 24-year-old student at the Maine College of Arts and Design in Portland, was outrage.

“It wasn’t unexpected,” Pickering said. “But I kind of thought ‘It’s never going to happen.’”

While Maine is not one of the states where abortion laws are expected to change radically due to the decision, Pickering said the best response the state could have is to enshrine it within the state constitution.

“I have a lot of friends who live all across the country who are going to be affected by this,” she said. “It’s very sad.”

Pickering doubted that the pro-life movement, closely aligned with conservative activists who celebrated a decision by the court yesterday to loosen gun regulations nationwide, cared about abortion rights because of its effect on children.

Around Monument Square, the Supreme Court’s decision was being talked about everywhere. Discussions flew between teenagers on the park bench, at the hot dog stand and beyond.

“Gonna leave it up to the states,” a man on a bike said to the hot dog stand operator.

“Been a long time,” the man replied.

A person who supports the court’s controversial decision was Chuck Unger of Pownal, who has protested outside Planned Parenthood in Portland for the past two years. He said that in addition to the legal changes regarding abortion in the United States, a moral change must happen, too.

“We got two generations who have grown up with the idea that abortion is as morally neutral as having an appendix taken out,” Unger said. “It’s going to take a long time to change that kind of thinking.”

He thinks the court’s decision will usher in an important dialogue about abortion.

“I’d rather have somebody yelling and screaming at me than being completely indifferent,” Unger said. “At least they are engaged … it’s a really important issue.”


In Bangor, where the annual Pride parade will fill the streets Saturday, a somberness spread.

“I’m worried for all of us,” said Kassandra Foss, 29, of Bangor.

Others, like Mareisa Weil, vice president of development and community engagement at Maine Family Planning in Bangor, said this has been shocking and devastating.

“It leaves you speechless and it’s scary. It’s also completely against public opinion. People want to see protection for abortion at the national level. This court has rejected what the majority of Americans want in this decision,” she said. “Allowing states to make their own rules and laws about this personal healthcare decision — it’s devastating and shouldn’t be this way.”

Weil believes the Supreme Court’s ruling will harm millions of Americans and fall hardest on poor people, people in rural areas, young people, the LGBTQ community and people of color. She said it’s important to remind people that abortion is still legal in Maine, but those rights are “only as strong as the lawmakers protecting them.”

BDN writers Kathleen O’Brien and David Marino Jr. contributed to this report

Sarah Walker Caron

Sarah Walker Caron is the senior editor, features, for the Bangor Daily News and the editor of Bangor Metro magazine. She’s the author of “Classic Diners of Maine,” and five cookbooks including “Easy...