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Future of abortion must be accessible, affordable, and supported

As we approach the 49th, and possibly final, anniversary of Roe v Wade, legislators, providers, and advocates are all planning for a post-Roe world. 

In arguing for its abortion ban, the state of Mississippi has asked the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v Wade and in oral arguments before the court on December 1, a majority of justices, including the three appointed by Donald Trump, indicated they would allow Mississippi’s abortion ban to be law – thereby overturning Roe or rendering it meaningless. 

The Guttmacher Institute estimates that abortion would then become illegal in 26 states.

While Roe v. Wade has protected the legal right to an abortion for nearly 50 years, legality alone is not and has never been enough.

Despite Roe, politicians have been able to create barriers and obstacles that treat people differently based on where they live and who they are. Young people, people struggling financially, and people of color have to work much harder to make it past the barriers to get an abortion. 

In 2021 alone, politicians introduced more than 600 abortion restrictions in state legislatures and more than 100 became law – a record number in any one year since Roe v. Wade. Even here in Maine, politicians opposed to abortion have tried to mandate medically unnecessary procedures, delays, and misinformation all with one goal: to push abortion out of reach for many.

The impact for people denied abortion care can be devastating. A recent study found that those denied an abortion were more likely to live below the federal poverty level, be unemployed, struggle to afford basic necessities like food, housing and transportation, and experience more serious health problems.

Despite the rhetoric, a majority of Americans and Mainers do not want Roe v Wade to be overturned. No matter their personal views about abortion, when asked what the experience should be like for someone getting an abortion more than 8 in 10 respondents want the experience to be supportive and non-judgmental, without added burdens or protestors, affordable, and safe.  

In the 1990’s under a Republican governor, the legislature passed the Reproductive Privacy Act, which codifies legal abortion in Maine law. More recently, Maine passed another series of laws to improve access to abortion, making it easier for people to seek care in their community from providers they know and trust, and laws that prohibit insurance companies, both public and private, from denying coverage for abortion. While Maine has a long history of passing laws to provide equitable care, this progress can be undone and reversed with a single election.

Statement from Nicole Clegg, Vice President of Public Affairs, Planned Parenthood Maine Action Fund and Planned Parenthood of Northern New England:

“The right to decide whether or when to have a child is essential for social, economic, and racial equality, reproductive autonomy, and the right to determine our own futures. Even with the protection of Roe v Wade, too many people have been denied that right by politicians determined to shame, stigmatize, and judge people who have abortions. 

“Now as we prepare to mark what may well be the final anniversary of Roe v Wade, we must continue to work toward a vision of abortion access where all people can get an abortion when they need it, laws support each of us, and our decisions are met with love and support.”

On Saturday, Planned Parenthood supporters will participate in a virtual fireside chat with Governor Mills to discuss the future of abortion in Maine and what Mainers can do to protect access to abortion in Maine and across the country.