Speech at fundraiser for Governor janet mills and congresswoman chellie pingree – august 4, 2022

With the overturn of Roe v. Wade, the United States has joined such undistinguished company as Poland and Honduras as the only countries in recent decades that have enacted criminal abortion laws or made their already strict criminal abortion laws more Draconian. 

About half these united states are busy right now criminalizing abortion. 

Half our country, Kansas excepted, is now a foreign land. 

Since 2000, 37 countries have liberalized their abortion laws: Argentina, Thailand, Ireland, Mexico and most recently Colombia. Chile proposes to put reproductive rights in its new constitution. Save that thought.

We know what happens when reproductive health care, including access to safe abortion, are curtailed: More unintended and unwanted pregnancies, and for women who decide or are forced to keep the pregnancy: less prenatal care, riskier pregnancies and deliveries, especially with young women, and increased maternal and infant mortality.

And for women who decide not to keep the pregnancy:  Abortion when criminalized does not go away it just goes underground, and is later, riskier, costlier with attendant increases in maternal mortality and morbidity. The burden is disproportionate on young, poor, rural women.

Abortions by pill, already on the increase, will increase more. The risk is no medical supervision or care if it is needed for fear of prosecution.

Women with wanted pregnancies who have life-threatening medical issues are put at risk with the denial of life saving health care. 

Women who miscarry are put in prison – just look at El Salvador. Where 30-year sentences for aggravated homicide after a miscarriage are common and for women who give birth to children that they do not want, a network of Homes for Abandoned Children.

I know this from my work around the world with International Planned Parenthood. We also know that women will take extraordinary steps not to have a child they do not want. 

But Women shouldn’t have to.

Worldwide, abortions occur with the same frequency in countries that have legalized it as in countries that have criminalized it. – about 35 per 1000 women of childbearing age. 

What next? An underground railroad to Canada. The Bar Harbor to Yarmouth ferry opened just in time. To quote Richard Dreyfus in Jaws, “we may need a bigger boat.”

Will we get to a situation where lobster boats anchor outside the 3-mile limit to offer abortion medication? Will there be no law east of the breakwater?

We are one election away from losing reproductive rights nationally and in Maine. Sexual rights, LGBTQ rights. Birth control. As well as what we read.

Look at attacks on public libraries. I’ll remind you that when the Nazis burned books, one of the first into the fire were my grandmother’s, who dared to say that no women could call herself free unless she had the right to decide whether or not to become a mother.

This will take all of us – men too, and not just by lining up for vasectomies. Especially young people, who if they don’t vote now then I don’t know when. It will take good Republican men and women, as in Kansas, who have daughters and who see them as more than incubators. In Latin America there is a Green Waves of women and men demanding decriminalization of abortion. We need a Green Wave here.

Stalwart elected officials are key. We have two stalwart women here so show that this overturn of Roe, this defeat of women, will turn out to be a Pyrrhic victory: Chellie Pingree and Janet Mills.