OpEd

There Are More Fake Abortion Clinics in Maine Than Real: Here’s What You Need to Know 

A photo outside of ABBA, a crisis pregnancy center located on Forest Ave in Portland, Maine. Photo courtesy of Elora Griswold.

In a nation increasingly divided over abortion rights, Maine has served as a safe haven for people from surrounding states to find the medical care they deserve. A quick search for “abortion clinics in ME” will return over a dozen facilities, all supposedly offering women’s health services and support. However, at least ten of these clinics are not what they position themselves to be. Many of the ‘clinics’ in Maine advertised on Google are run by fundamentalist Christian organizations who list themselves as affiliates, adamant on running Maine’s three real abortion providers out of operation–Maine Family Planning, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, and the Mabel Wadsworth Center

Many fake clinics label themselves as ‘crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs)’ or ‘women’s resource centers’ in hopes that vulnerable populations will mistake their doors for an abortion clinic that provides actual medical services. Many CPCs will mimic the outside exterior of local Planned Parenthoods to deceive. They will even send advocates to stand outside actual abortion clinics to guilt trip medical patients and redirect them to religiously affiliated organizations. In fact, 12 of 13 fake clinics in Maine are within 3 miles of real abortion providers. and 6 of these clinics are less than 1 mile away from real healthcare centers– making this ‘redirection’ process much more manageable. 

These clinics will also use veiled language on their advertising and websites to divert their true nature. For instance, a CPC center on Forest Avenue in Portland, Maine, named ABBA, states on its website, “You have three options when it comes to your unplanned pregnancy: abortion, adoption, and parenting. We provide education on all your options so you can make an empowered choice for yourself and your future.” 

This claim of neutrality towards abortion is exceptionally misleading. A quick scroll to the bottom of ABBA’s website will reveal a disclaimer stating, “Many of our staff and client advocates have been just where you are, and we listen to you with compassion, not judgment. ABBA, A Women’s Choice has no financial interest in your pregnancy because we do not perform abortions, provide referrals or cost estimates for abortion procedures, the abortion pill, or arrange adoptions.”

ABBA is directly funded by Christchurch Portland, an Evangelical Covenant Christian church that writes on its website that “ABBA Women’s Choice opens its doors to men and women whose lives have been changed due to an unplanned pregnancy. With pregnancy testing, limited obstetric ultrasound, limited STI/STD testing, educational programs, sexual health programs, mentoring, and restoration programs, many lives have been changed because women were empowered to choose life.” 

Regardless of an organization’s political stance on abortion, there is little moral explanation for purposeful deception in a country that supposedly honors personal liberty. These fake clinics may seem like harmless centers that advocate for another perspective on abortion. Still, they pose a real danger to pregnant people by delaying access to legitimate healthcare services and preventing people from making medically (rather than religiously) informed decisions surrounding their pregnancy. 

According to data reported by the CDC in 2019, “the majority of women who had abortions (57%) were in their 20s, while about three-in-ten (31%) were in their 30s. Teens ages 13 to 19 accounted for 9% of those who had abortions, while women in their 40s accounted for 4%.”

Abortion care provider & educator Dr. Julia McDonald presents a speech during a protest outside City Hall. Photo courtesy of Elora Griswold.

Among women ages 15-44 surveyed, the data shows there were “23.8 abortions per 1,000 non-Hispanic Black women; 11.7 abortions per 1,000 Hispanic women; 6.6 abortions per 1,000 non-Hispanic White women; and 13 abortions per 1,000 women of other races or ethnicities in that age range.” 

As abortion care provider & educator Dr. Julia McDonald remarked in front of Portland’s City Hall during a protest organized by Planned Parenthood Maine Action Fund following the overturn of Roe v. Wade, “The effect of the decisions coming from this Supreme Court are devastating for this country, especially for the communities that are already facing inequities and injustice. Communities of color, immigrants, people who are black, indigenous, young, queer, and trans–which is why, as we move beyond Roe, we must center the experiences of people most impacted by systemic inequalities and fight against forces diverting their right to safe medical care.” 

As a Maine community, it’s time to collectively reject and protest CPC centers, which target low-income communities to push forward a religious ideal in a free country. As local reporter Jo Opherdt writes in Pine & Roses, a state-wide publication focused on local politics, “Everyone deserves comprehensive healthcare, including abortion, and should not be made to avoid the many deceptive clinics in their way first. The consultant wearing scrubs advising a life-changing decision should be a licensed physician, not an ideology-driven volunteer.” 

If you or someone you know is debating options following an unplanned pregnancy, please use this online tool to identify which clinics near you are CPCs for up-to-date information. 

There are also several state-wide resources I’d highly recommend exploring, which I’ve listed below: 

If you’re considering abortion 

1) Planned Parenthood of Northern New England: They can provide primary care, women’s healthcare, pregnancy testing, and other related services.

2) Maine Family Planning (18+ locations across Maine): They can provide family support services (including counseling), primary care, and pregnancy-related services.

3) All Options Counseling: They can provide confidential counseling that is not coercive in nature. 

If you’re considering carrying the pregnancy to term 

1) Lots For Tots: They can help provide low-cost baby supplies, including strollers, cribs, formula, and more. 

2) Maine Needs: This is a Portland-based organization that can help with baby clothes, toys, and essentials for the home. 

3) Presente Maine: They can assist with food access and select vaccinations. 

4) Jewish Community Alliance: They can help with providing essentials, access to a food bank, and free diapers. 

5) The Store Next Door: This organization founded in Lewiston helps youth facing homelessness find essentials. 

Elora welcomes students and faculty to reach out with suggestions for articles– you can reach her via email at eloraagriswold@smccme.edu or on Instagram at @elora.abigail.

Categories: OpEd

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