About 35 abortion opponents lined up outside the Planned Parenthood office at 443 Congress St. on Saturday to call for an end to the public funding of the organization while about 15 people led a counterprotest across the street.

Both groups quietly held signs for about two hours while an occasional horn honked as vehicles passed by. On Sept. 29, about 350 people rallied in support of Planned Parenthood at Monument Square.

The abortion opponents were organized by Leslie Sneddon of Richmond, who is a member of Pro-Life Missionaries of Maine. They were joining protests at more than 300 Planned Parenthood centers across the country Saturday.

Sneddon said she was not concerned about the small turnout of protesters in Portland.

“We are not worried about it,” she said.

The protest came amid long-standing Republican efforts on Capitol Hill to cut federal funding to Planned Parenthood. Those efforts accelerated this summer following the release of secretly recorded videos of Planned Parenthood officials discussing how their organization sometimes collects fetal tissue for research. Critics of Planned Parenthood say the video discussion was about the sale of fetal tissue, but the organization has vehemently denied that.


The issue has surfaced in some state legislatures, including in Maine.

On Saturday abortion opponents held up signs as they leaned up against the office building at 443 Congress St. Meanwhile, business continued as usual at the Planned Parenthood offices inside.

Heather Brewin of Lisbon held up a sign that read, “Will Adopt Your Baby.”

Brewin said this was her first time coming out to support abortion opponents. She was with several friends, including Sarah Riggs of Topsham and Tabby Ingalls of Lisbon.

“I want to contribute,” said Riggs.

Ingalls said she often holds up signs outside the Planned Parenthood office on Fridays, when other abortion opponents usually gather there.


“God says life begins at conception,” said Ingalls, holding her baby, Kathryn, 10 months.

Across the street, members of the newly formed Reproductive Action League held up their own signs, such as ones that read, “What about MY personhood rights?” and “If it’s not your body, it’s not your choice.”

Maria “Meow” Sedler of Portland said the group wanted to get out its own message of reproductive justice.

“It’s important that people can access reproductive health care without shame, without stigmatization, and I think we need to have a world where that doesn’t happen,” said Amy Gaidis, another member of the Reproductive Action League, WCSH-TV reported.

This month three Republican state lawmakers – Reps. Richard Pickett of Dixfield, Mary Anne Kinney of Knox and Beth P. Turner of Burlington – announced they would propose legislation to block the disbursement of federal funds to Planned Parenthood in Maine. It is unlikely to get very far in the next session, which starts in January, because it must get through the evenly divided Legislative Council in order to proceed.

The Maine chapter of the Vermont-based Planned Parenthood of Northern New England receives money through the state’s Medicaid program, which funds various health services for about 10,000 low-income women in Maine.


Planned Parenthood of Northern New England had revenue of about $19 million in 2013, including $5 million in grants or contributions and $14 million in payments for services. Services include birth control, cancer screenings, breast health, abortion and sexual health education and counseling.

The Maine chapter is not involved in fetal tissue donation.

Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: QuimbyBeth

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