Over 60 protestors marched to advocate for reproductive rights in downtown Farmington Friday, Sept. 16. Following the march, there was an open mic where political candidates, community members and students at the University of Maine at Farmington stressed the importance of the right to an abortion and the need to vote in the November election.

FARMINGTON — Over 60 University of Maine at Farmington students, community members, politicians and organizers marched through downtown Farmington to advocate for reproductive rights Friday, Sept. 16.

The rally was organized by the UMF Democrats, led by Reese Remington, Angie Tehuitzil, Zach Laflamme, and Scott Donahue.

Remington said the impetus for the rally was the overturning of the landmark Supreme Court case, Roe v. Wade in June.

The Supreme Court overturned the historic ruling from 1973 that guaranteed Americans the constitutional right to an abortion June 24.

In the months that have followed, “roughly 15 states have banned most abortions, including prohibitions from conception with narrow exceptions or after fetal cardiac activity has been detected (which is often around six weeks of pregnancy),” according to the Washington Post.

Remington said while UMF students were away for the summer during the overturning, the local fight for reproductive rights had “lost its momentum.”


Angie Tehuitzil and Zach Laflamme lead a march for reproductive rights in downtown Farmington Friday, Sept. 16. The protest was a response to the June overturning of the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case that guaranteed Americans the constitutional right to an abortion. Tehuitzil and Laflamme, students at the University of Maine at Farmington, said the rally was needed to keep the momentum going in the fight for reproductive rights.

Tehuitzil said that after a similar rally in the winter, organizers “realized how big of an issue” and “concern” this was for students.

Laflamme was inspired by a march in Winslow to work with the UMF Democrats and organize something similar.

Laflamme said the Winslow march was “very impactful and powerful for everyone to come together and voice their opinions, be strong.”

Laflamme said he hoped, felt it was important the UMF rally would help the Farmington community “band together” to advocate for reproductive rights.

“I think it’s important to have these protests not happen just for a week, but instead, it’s continuing,” he said.

The organizers also viewed the rally through the lens of politics and the upcoming election season. It’s been posed “abortion is on the ballots” via the politicians elected to office in November.


“It’s really important to show solidarity among students and the community and also acknowledge the fact that abortion rights are now decided on a state level,” Remington said. “We’re dealing with one candidate who is pro-choice [Gov. Janet Mills] and one who is anti-abortion [former Gov. Paul LePage].

“There’s a lot of young people that don’t know what’s at stake. My hope is that this gets them thinking and involved, showing that even though it has been extremely politicized, [reproductive rights] are a human rights issue.”

LePage’s campaign issued a statement ahead of the Roe v. Wade ruling in May that “emphasized his support for abortion limits in a written statement, while also expressing support for a ban on federal funding for abortions, except in cases of rape, incest or when the mother’s life is in danger.”

“There’s just so much that needs to be done that to me is critical for all Mainers. Abortion affects few,” LePage also said at the end of June.

In May, Gov. Mills committed to protecting abortion and reproductive rights.

Mills then signed an executive order in July banning “state agencies from cooperating with another state’s investigation into a person, organization or health care provider for receiving or performing abortions in Maine.”


Remington said while Maine is currently a state with legal access to abortion, “it’s really easy to think that these things won’t happen until one day they do.”

“I’m really passionate [about] informing students, letting them know what’s going on at the election level,” Remington said.

Protestors march down High Street in Farmington Friday, Sept. 16, to advocate for reproductive rights and legal abortion. The march and rally, organized by the University of Maine at Farmington Democrats, was also an opportunity to encourage voting in the November election, where politicians and activists say “abortion is on the ballot” in Maine. Kay Neufeld/Franklin Journal

In that vein, the rally organizers invited political candidates Scott Wheeler, running against incumbent state Sen. Russell Black in District 5; Greg Kimber, running to be District 74’s state representative; and state Rep. Scott Landry, running for reelection in District 75 to represent Farmington and part of Chesterville.

The candidates speaking were men, which Remington felt was important to show “solidarity.”

“It’s important to show this is not just a women’s issue, that they are good people that care about this and support it and don’t want our rights taken away.”

Remington also emphasized that in Maine, “we pride ourselves on our individual rights and our freedom.”


“It’s really important to uphold that,” she said.

“I’m here to support these students who are politically active … and to demonstrate my support for reproductive rights,” Wheeler said in an interview. “I think Maine needs to stay at the forefront of having reproductive care available to everyone who needs it.”

Landry said he attended to “show support” and encourage students to go and vote – which “is the only way we’re going to stop the tide that’s coming at us,” he said.

“We have no right to tell a woman what to do with her body, something that’s ultimately going to affect her entire life,” Landry said. “There’s a difference in what you can do with your life when you don’t have a choice.”

Organizers said another priority of the protest was inclusivity and representation.

“If Maine were to turn to being a state that had abortion illegal, that would be really horrific for many communities, but especially our limited communities of black and people of color and our new immigrants,” Remington said.


According to 2019 data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “compared with non-Hispanic White women, abortion rates and ratios were 3.6 and 3.3 times higher among non-Hispanic Black women and 1.8 and 1.5 times higher among Hispanic women.”

Reuters additionally reports “more Black women live in states that will likely ban abortion, and those living in southern states – with the most restrictive laws – will bear the brunt.”

Remington said she also wanted the rally to be inclusive for trans people and nonbinary people that are often “left completely out of the conversation” around reproductive rights and abortion.

“They also need access to that type of care,” she said of people with uteruses who don’t identify as cisgender women.

Over 60 people marched for reproductive rights in downtown Farmington Friday, Sept. 16. The march, organized by the University of Maine at Farmington Democrats, culminated in a rally at Mantor Green on UMF’s campus. The rally was inspired by the recent overturning of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case guaranteeing Americans the constitutional right to an abortion. Kay Neufield, Franklin Journal

The march led protestors up Main Street, Broadway and High Street back to Mantor Green at UMF.

Protestors carried signs such as those reading “abortion is healthcare,” “hands off our bodies,” and “if the GOP was ‘pro-life’ then children wouldn’t be dying in schools; protect affordable, legal, safe abortions.”


They chanted “abortion is healthcare,” “this is what democracy looks like,” “we want justice” and “abort the court.”

The marchers received support by way of cheers from passersby and honks from drivers. One person yelled “abortion is murder” while driving by the crowd.

Following the march, organizers held space for an open mic, allowing anyone to speak if they felt called to do so.

Wheeler, Landry and Kimber emphasized the importance of the upcoming election Tuesday, Nov. 8, and that “abortion is on the ballot.”

“My heart is so swelled today to see you folks out here showing what you think is important,” Wheeler said during the rally. “I just applaud you … and I hear you.”

Encouraging attendees to vote, organizers also handed out voter registration cards during the rally.


UMF students spoke about their experiences as women, nonbinary and trans people afraid of what the future holds.

Sam Hammar said as a trans person, “if I had to carry a baby to term, I would not make it.”

“If I was forced into that position, I wouldn’t be here still,” Hammar said. “That’s … terrifying … that something that can’t breathe yet is seen as more important than me … that people with uteruses are seen as less valuable.”

Whitney Durgin told the crowd she was “so tired of actions that directly affect human lives, human livelihood, human freedom being chalked up to a simple political opinion.”

“Politics are not an opinion, politics mold our reality,” Durgin said. “Your politics are setting real laws into motion, that devastate real communities, real mothers, real brothers, real homes, real sisters.”

Remington also spoke before the crowd, telling the story about her pregnancy scare following a sexual assault in Florida.


“Thankfully, systems and tools were available to me at the time,” Remington said. “However this was in Florida, so today if that same thing would have happened to me, I wouldn’t have been able to do anything about it.

“We are not going back to that [time before legalized abortion]. Our voices matter and we have to do something about it. We have to remain strong. It’s a super uncertain time, super scary. The only way that we can ever do anything about [abortion rights] is to be loud and let them know we are not going back.”

Mareisa Weil, the vice president of community engagement at Maine Family Planning, addresses the crowd at a rally for reproductive rights in Farmington Friday, Sept. 16. Weil told the crowd of the rally, organized by the University of Maine at Farmington Democrats, to become resources on abortion for people in their community. Maine Family Planning is the local reproductive and sexual health care provider in Farmington. Kay Neufield/Franklin Journal

Finishing up the rally, Mareisa Weil, the vice president of community engagement at Maine Family Planning addressed the crowd.

Weil informed the crowd that Maine Family Planning is the local abortion care provider, alongside other sexual-health care and gender-affirming care, with an office based in Farmington.

Weil pointed out the bag she was carrying, which said “everyone loves someone who had an abortion.” Weil told the crowd she, too, had an abortion as a young adult.

“It wasn’t complicated for me: It was a clear choice, I was happy to do it, I wasn’t grief stricken,” Weil said. “I didn’t want to be pregnant and I was fortunate enough to be able to get an abortion. That’s what I needed, that’s what I wanted, and that’s what I got.


“That’s what every single person deserves, who needs an abortion for whatever reason it may be. It doesn’t have to be an anguished decision. It’s our body. It’s our right.

“I now have two beautiful children that I chose to have in the timing that was right for me; two children that wouldn’t exist in this world without the abortion that I had 17 years ago.

“This is not just about abortion, right? This is about power and control and who has it. This is about undoing progress – made by black women, trans and queer folks, indigenous people – trying to take us back in time. It’s unacceptable.

“This is about who gets to feel safe and affirmed in their body and identity. Who has those rights? I know some people have talked about voting and I know that can feel like a frustrating and futile effort sometimes, but it’s one of the tools that we have. So please vote.”

Weil additionally encouraged the audience to be a “resource” for those around them.

“Know where your local abortion clinic is; know what the laws about abortion are in the state that you live in; know through what gestational limit people can get abortion; know how medication abortion works and how it differs from emergency contraception,” Weil said. “Something that you can do is become experts in abortion. And also publicly declare your support for abortion like we’re all doing right here.

“If you’re talking about it, who knows when someone might trust you, to come to you, to share something with you, to say ‘I had this experience’ or ‘I need help.’ You can be that person.”

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