Forty years after Roe v. Wade, cheers and protests in Maine

Forty years ago Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in Roe v. Wade, legalizing abortions in America.

What: Maine Choice Coalition for Moving Choice Forward for ME will hold a celebration and rally to mark the 40th anniversary of Roe V. Wade.

When: 9 a.m. to noon Wednesday, Jan. 23

Where: Hall of Flags, State House, Augusta

Today, those in Maine who support that decision say the state is doing well with access, education and, in general, a woman's right to choose — all while the number of abortions has dropped from about 4,500 a year in the 1980s to about 2,500 a year now.

"Things actually haven't gotten too bad. It's not like some of the other states," said Megan Hannan, director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. "We have people on both sides of the aisle, Republicans and Democrats, who believe that the decisions are best left up to the women who are making them."

But those opposed to Roe v. Wade say they will never stop fighting to end legalized abortions. 

"One child dying is too many deaths," said Donna Hebert, founder of Pro-Life Missionaries of Maine, which holds weekly protests outside the Portland Planned Parenthood clinic that provides abortions. "When I stand before the Lord, I can say, 'Lord, I tried.'"

In Maine, abortions are legal with few restrictions. A minor must have parental consent to get an abortion, or she must receive counseling or be granted a petition by the court. There are no such requirements for adults. Maine law allows abortion until the fetus is viable, unless the health or life of the mother is at risk.

Maine's abortion numbers were highest in the 1980s, when they hovered around 4,500 a year, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control figures. By the late 1990s, they had dropped to about 2,500.

About 2,300 abortions were performed in 2010, the most recent year data is available from the Office of Data, Research and Vital Statistics in the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Hannan credits that drop to more and better birth control options, as well as comprehensive sex education in schools.

"I think we can all agree we'd like it to continue going down," she said. "As long as it means not that there are unnecessary restrictions put on women so that they can't have an abortion when they need it, but that it means there are fewer unintended pregnancies."

In 2009, the last year data is available from the federal CDC, Maine's abortion rate was 9.8 per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44. The national rate was 15.1.

Three health centers perform abortions in Maine: Mabel Wadsworth Women's Health Center in Bangor, Family Planning Association in Augusta and Planned Parenthood in Portland. Some ob/gyns also perform abortions and some hospitals will as well, Hannan said, as long as the patient comes through an affiliated doctor. Maine law allows doctors, hospitals and others to refuse to perform or assist in the procedure.

Although some lawmakers have tried to place restrictions on abortions in Maine — including, last year, proposals to require a 24-hour waiting period and counseling before an abortion — they have failed, even in legislatures controlled by conservatives.

Hannan sees that as a good thing.

But she also sees more protests at her clinic and others. Every Friday for the past several months, members of Pro-Life Missionaries of Maine have been stationed outside the Portland Planned Parenthood with anti-abortion signs and pamphlets.

Hannan believes the uptick in protests is due to abortion debates during the most recent election.

"The election was just a hotbed of anti-women, anti-birth control, anti-abortion stuff," she said. "And I think there was an echo chamber for people who felt that way, anyway, but they were now hearing people running for the Senate, people who are U.S. senators, talking about things like 'legitimate rape,' talking about the fact there's no need for abortion to save the life of the mother, ever."

Hebert, head of Pro-Life Missionaries of Maine, said she started showing up at Planned Parenthood in July, after she learned the clinic performs abortions. A born-again Christian, she believes abortion is murder. 

"I decided to go one day and see if I could offer the girls other options. They didn't have to choose death for their child," Hebert said. "So I started going out there. And eventually, my children asked if they could come with me, so they started coming with me."

As word spread, other families joined Hebert and her children. About 20 people now regularly show up Friday mornings. She's asked large groups of people to stay away, she said, because she doesn't want the women to feel intimidated.

"I don't wish these girls to have to walk through a hundred people holding signs," she said. "The few of us that are out there are sufficient. That's all we need."

Recently, others have started a counter-protest.

Hebert said she used to be pro-choice and had legal abortions herself, including one when she was 15, scared and didn't know she had any other option. She wants to make sure other women realize they have options.

"No one was there for me and I wish there had been, because I really believe I would have chosen life if somebody had spoken to me and given me the choice," she said.

To her, the upcoming anniversary of Roe v. Wade means "40 years of absolute legal killing in the United States."

She said, "I keep praying that more Christians would realize this."

Hannan hopes Roe v. Wade is never overturned. Hebert is sure it will be.

"When Jesus returns, absolutely," she said. "But I hope it's before that. I can't tell. Only God knows."

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PAUL ST JEAN's picture

So, 7 unborn babies being

So, 7 unborn babies being "legally" murdered every day is o.k.?

Catherine Pressey's picture

NOT murder

Until the baby can live outside the mother and have a quallity life, and until men have those babies it is the mother and doctor that have to decide, NONE OF OUR BUSINESS.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

That's right, you and your

That's right, you and your doctor have the right to decide to murder your unborn baby. Call it anything you like, but it is what it is.

Catherine Pressey's picture

There you go again NOT MURDER:

You can call it what you like, yourself, however it is many many men that give away their sperm so whole heartedly happy to do it and walk away not caring if jesssst one of those little fellers made it to the egg. You see as far as I am concerned if we are going to split hairs here. The Sperm is a living thing, and many get flushed with or without the help of women. So if we are to say that it is murder than the murder starts when all those sperms get flushed down the commode in that rubber. Those are living at least when they are sent on their way. Purely for the enjoyment of the act. That goes on to maybe make contact with the egg, this egg once landing home, is not a viable baby until such time it can remain out of the mother. So you men murder many many, maybe babies, and when some of them are not murdered, the sperm. Makes landfall and then the mother has to figure out how to care for this child once born. If it is that we or women did not give men that right to know and ask their opinion, in this matter, sucks being you. Why did you not MURDER your sperm in the first place. OH I get it, it is the man thing. NOT YOUR PROBLEM, and as long as it is the womens problem, it is they who need to decide. This is pretty self evident who will have to feed cloth love, that wee life once born, 24/7 for ever. Many women may feel different than I and many others, that is their right to have that opinion, but do not push that opinion onto those that feel it is the womans right to decide, for herself with the help advice of her Doctor. So Paul stick it anyplace but remember the outcome. Poison to you too!

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

You've made it abundantly

You've made it abundantly clear that there is nothing you won't say or print, whether it makes sense or not, to defend the murdering of innocent unborn babies. Some people are just that way. It is fortunate for you that your parents were loving enough not to think the way you do.
.."but do not push that opinion onto those that feel it is the womans right to decide,"
Refusing to alter my own opinion because you disagree with it isn't me pushing my opinion on you, but rather, it is you not being allowed to push your opinion onto me. See how that works?

Catherine Pressey's picture

Paul St. Jean See how that works

you have a right to believe anyway you want, it is you and others that call this murder, the ones pushing your opinion onto those that believe the woman have the right to decide. I am not sure what you meant with your comment on Sat. "but do not push that opinion onto those that feel it is the woman’s right to decide," it sure seems to me that it is you pushing the murder statement. Like I said you are apparently an male that does not have to carry the baby, you can walk away clean not looking back. When you comment on my comment say who your addressing. Some people as you say are just know it alls like you. If you have not walked a mile in the shoes of that person who may decide to abort the pregnancy. Your also probably one of those that would choose to cut funding to AFDC or women on welfare, that had those children. You can not have it both ways We the people have to take care of those children. I am for taking care of those babies that are wanted or supposed to be born. For if our God wanted the others to go full term he would guide those persons involved to not abort. Also if you were also referring to me, about lucky for me that my parents did not abort me. No that would be lucky for you that I am here to speak out for the women’s right to decide.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Pick up the marbles. I'm not

Pick up the marbles. I'm not going to change your mind and you, are certainly not going to change mine. I'm moving on; have a nice day.

Catherine Pressey's picture

Marbles you say:

Move on you say good for you, you don't have to change your mind you don't have to carry the kid, or change that diaper, young, old or what ever. Easy for you to move on, as you seem to believe this is just a game, here. You keep your marbles and the way they lay it OK with lots of like minded. . Happy Trails

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

I will take the high road and

I will take the high road and choose not to engage in verbal discord with an elderly woman (by your own admission). My last post was intended to end my participation in debating the topic of abortion since we were taking it nowhere, but apparently, I failed in conveying that intention to you. I apologize for that. However, I must say that any further comments from you to me regarding abortion of unborn babies will be considered badgering and will be dealt with accordingly.
Once again, have a nice day.

Catherine Pressey's picture

You do not know how to stop your comments,

Proof is in you coming back with yet one more comment, you stated that you were done at the last comment, I on the other hand said nothing about ending my comments toward this issue. You are sure not a man at your word, your last post said you were done. Than be done, so you must say any further comments from me regarding abortion, will be considered badgering, I tell you what your the young abusive upstart as we old elderly would call you. All you have to do is set your email not to be notified of any further comment on this story. This being a public new story ya get all kinds, maybe if you can not handle the heat you need to stop the comments. I promise you young upstart, I am done with commenting on your comments, regarding this story. And we elderly keep our word. However I shall comment on this story in any other way I deem fit, and just. You have a good long life and may the grace of our lord protect you. THE END



LEWISTON — On Friday, Jan. 27, at 6 p.m. the Jesus Party Pentecostal Kid's Church will hold a special "Blessing Of The Baby Dolls" gathering at their headquarters at 291 Bates St. Children will be encouraged to bring their dolls to be prayed over.

Rev. Doug and Sonia Taylor, directors of the church, attended the Hands Around The Capitol Rally sponsored by Maine Right to Life to protest the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade on Jan. 7. The Taylors wanted to take their experience and package it in a way that children at their ministry can understand.

The Taylors desire to promote respect for life and at no time will the mention of abortion come up at the gathering. The Taylors believe that it is not enough to just save babies from abortion but children need to be nurtured for and well taken care of after birth and all throughout their lives.

This gathering will be a fun-filled experience for children and will include baby food eating and baby bottle drinking contests. The ministry of the Jesus Party is pro-life, has been on the cutting edge of social issues that affect children since 1994 and has found unique ways to translate heavy subjects into digestible portions for the comprehension of youth in a sensitive manner.

Catherine Pressey's picture

I disagree and agree

I believe it is the mothers right to choose, None of our business it is a long road to hoe for the young mother that has to make a difficult decision, however I agree that we need to care for and nurture those that are chosen to live by Gods will and the mothers decision. Our Republican Gov. would cut all the aide to these mothers leaving the kids the ones being hurt. Those that decide their own course of action. To judge them is better left to our God. Good bad or not. When men carry those babies and step up and pay the price for the actions that created that union, of sperm and egg. Than and only then can they or should they tell the mothers their opinions. Pro Life or Pro Choice that is the private choice of the persons involved.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

..."I agree that we need to

..."I agree that we need to care for and nurture those that are chosen to live by Gods will"...
Life is God's greatest gift to man. Do you actually believe that it is ever God's will for a woman to murder her unborn child?
"When men carry those babies"...
This isn't a man and woman issue. Millions of women support the value of the life of an unborn child. You shouldn't try to support your position by attempting to blame the whole unwanted pregnancy situation on men. You want the man to take full responsibility for the pregnancy but I don't see where you give the man any say in whether or not the unborn baby should live or die.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

God bless the Rev. and Mrs.

God bless the Rev. and Mrs. Taylor for doing His work here on Earth, right here in good old Lewiston, Maine.


Thanks for the post

Thank you very much for your post. I think it is foolish how some people can't see what we are trying to do with the youth in the area. For example when they call me a hater or bigot when I hold events like the following and my skin color is white as a ghost.(lol)

The ministry will also be exploring black history and the contributions made to this country by African Americans throughout the month of February. These special services will be held every Friday night, 6:00 PM, located @ ministry headquarters. The ministry will play classic animated episodes of the 70"S & 80'S hit "Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids. The show always had an educational lesson emphasized by Bill Cosby's live-action segments. Rev. Doug & Sonia Taylor enjoy the urban setting and moral messages to the cartoon series and see the benefit of sharing these timeless truths with this generation of youth. The ministry will also promote racial unity in a fun and tasty way by serving snacks such as chocolate milk & Oreo cookies. Snacks such as M&M's will be served as a symbolic gesture that though we may all be different on the outside we are all the same on the inside. Coloring crayons will as be passed out to embrace a world of color and it's beauty. Children will learn what the words segregation, racism, prejudice, and civil rights mean. The children will also be encouraged to embrace racial unity, acceptance of peoples differences, and love for one another.


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