Hundreds attend an abortion rights rally Monday evening at Portland City Hall. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

The hundreds of people streaming up Congress Street toward Portland’s annual fireworks show on Monday evening weren’t decked out in the traditional red, white and blue for Independence Day.

Instead, they wore green, the color that has become the symbol of the abortion rights movement in Latin America.

“We are gathered together on this day when we’re expected to celebrate our nation,” said an organizer who identified herself as only as J.J. “I think a lot of us are not feeling like celebrating in the usual way.”

Less than two weeks ago, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the 1973 precedent Roe v. Wade and ended a nationwide constitutional right to abortion.

In Maine, state law guarantees the right to an abortion up until a fetus is considered viable outside the womb – generally at 22 to 24 weeks. But a total of 26 states have or are expected to impose bans on the procedure, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that tracks abortion.

Abortion providers here are gearing up for an influx in out-of-state patients who will no longer be able to get appointments where they live. And 300 to 400 people gathered on July Fourth outside of Portland City Hall to protest the court’s opinion and call for dramatic action to preserve abortion rights across the country.


Instead of flags, they carried signs with their messages. One read: “Respect my existence or expect resistance.” Another said: “I dissent.”

Theodosia Schneider came with a sign that said, “End compulsory pregnancy.” Next to her, Erik Lauritzen held one with the words, “Their choice.” They came from Hartford to join the protest.

“If we stick our heads in the sand, nothing will change,” Schneider, 33, said.

“It’s 2022, and basic human rights are being taken away from every woman in the country,” Lauritzen, 29, said.

Schneider said she works as an ultrasound technologist. This protest was her first one, and she spoke about her concern that women of color and low-income women will die because they are denied access to life-saving abortions.

“I’ve seen the patients—” she stopped as her eyes filled with tears.


“Women need access to this,” she continued.

Naomi Mayer of Portland, left, Beth Shorey of Portland and Mary Ann Larson, right, of Cumberland talk during the abortion rights rally Monday evening at at Portland City Hall. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

On the steps of Portland City Hall, J.J. looked out on the crowd and asked everyone to take out their phones. She instructed them to make donations through the National Network of Abortion Funds, which cover all or some costs associated with abortions, and download an app that would identify elected officials to call on key issues. She called on those present to follow the lead of Black and Indigenous activists and to include transgender and nonbinary people in their conversations about abortion.

“We want tonight to be about getting (expletive) done for abortion,” she said.

One speaker, who identified herself only as Taylor, shared her abortion story for the first time. She spoke quietly at first and told the crowd she was nervous to share her experience, and the protesters  gathered there cheered for her. She talked about how she became pregnant last year despite using birth control for years and decided to get an abortion.

“On the day of the procedure, I was met by pro-life enthusiasts shouting, swearing and damning me to hell,” she said. “But inside the clinic, I was met by some of the kindest people I had ever met.”

Her voice grew stronger as she spoke. She told the crowd about the nurse who squeezed her hand and reassured her during the procedure. She said she thought of herself as one of “the lucky ones.” By the end of her speech, her voice was ringing over the crowd.

“We are more than just our bodies,” she said.

On the march from Portland City Hall to the Eastern Promenade, the crowd chanted: “My body, my choice!” “Abortion is health care!” When they reached the end of Congress Street, the park was already full of people claiming their spots for the fireworks show. Some people stared at the incoming protest, but others stood and joined their chants.

“My body, my choice!” they said in unison. “My body, my choice!”

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