At least 1,000 people protest on the steps of Portland City Hall on Friday, June 24, 2022, after the U.S. Supreme court overturned Roe v. Wade. Protestors called for universal abortion access. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

Less than two weeks after the Supreme Court removed the right to abortion, leaving the decision with the states, people are traveling to Maine for the procedure.

In Portland, Planned Parenthood has seen a little under a dozen people from states where abortion was made illegal after the Supreme Court decision visit for the procedure, said Nicole Clegg, senior vice president of public affairs at Planned Parenthood of Northern New England.

Maine Family Planning, which has 18 clinics across Maine from Damariscotta to Fort Kent, has already seen an uptick in visits and calls from out-of-state patients seeking the procedure, said Mareisa Weil, vice president of development and community engagement.

That sudden influx is an early indicator of the effects that the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade is having on abortion availability in the U.S. Even states like Maine that are located hundreds of miles away from ones that have banned abortion are seeing those seeking access to abortion.

Most of the patients traveling to Maine are coming from the South and Midwest, Clegg said, which constitute the bulk of the states that have banned abortion procedures.

While Clegg couldn’t speak specifically about any of the cases, each individual probably has a different reason for coming to Maine, she said, such as a personal relationship in Maine or finding an available appointment when they needed the procedure done as quickly as possible.

“I would expect that we will continue to see more people, and what we see people for may evolve — it may turn out that we see an increase in birth control needs,” said Clegg, who said the number of overall IUD and long-acting reversible contraceptive appointments had doubled in the past week. “This is uncharted territory.”         

The effects have been swift. A patient from Mississippi called a Maine Family Planning clinic the day of the ruling on June 24, Weil said.

She said Maine Family Planning would continue to do everything to make sure that all Americans have access to abortions in Maine, especially marginalized groups most affected by the ruling: those in poverty; communities in rural areas; people of color and those who are transgender, non-binary and gender non-conforming.

“We know that this disastrous ruling from the Supreme Court will result in a significant increase in people from out of state traveling to Maine to receive abortion care that they should be able to receive in their home communities,” Weil said.


Clegg said she is continuing to look for Maine leaders to stand up for people who come to the state for abortions, especially as states that have made the procedure look at ramping up efforts to prosecute their residents who leave the state for abortion procedures.

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services is not tracking the number of people from states that have banned abortion coming to Maine for the procedure, Jackie Farwell said.

She pointed to an executive order from Gov. Janet Mills on Tuesday that prohibits state officials from cooperating with another state’s investigation into abortion care in Maine. That came amid fears that some states could levy criminal charges against people who travel elsewhere for the procedure.  

The executive order also said that Mills will use her power to oppose extradition attempts from other states for performing or receiving an abortion and that she would work to minimize barriers to abortion care.

“Access to reproductive health care, and the health care providers who offer it, will be protected by my administration,” Mills said.

Maine law has protected a right to abortion services before viability — the ability for a fetus to survive outside the womb — since 1994. The procedure is allowed afterward to save the life of the mother.

Abortion rights are broadly supported in Maine, with even the state’s most prominent Republican politician, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, supporting codifying abortion rights into federal law.

A 2014 Pew poll found that Maine had the ninth-highest margin of support for abortion rights for any state in the country, though it ranked last among the six New England states.

Almost two-thirds (64 percent) of Mainers said abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while 33 percent said it should be mostly illegal. By comparison, 74 percent of people in Massachusetts think it should be mostly legal, which is the highest percent in the country.

The nearest state to Maine where abortion is now prohibited is West Virginia, about a nine-hour, 550-mile drive from Portland. But Portland International Jetport has direct flights from many locations that have banned or may soon ban abortion services. Those include Nashville, Tennessee; Atlanta, Georgia; Charlotte and Durham, North Carolina; and Detroit, Michigan.

In Nashville and Atlanta, state law now bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.

While Georgia’s law is expected to soon come into effect pending a decision by a federal court, a more restrictive law banning all abortions, including those that are the result of rape or incest will likely take effect this summer in Tennessee.

While abortion procedures continue in Charlotte, Durham and Detroit up to fetal viability, Republican lawmakers in both states have interest in using laws on the books that were unenforceable before Dobbs to ban the practice.