Pingree, others stand against Trump in Portland

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PORTLAND — After protests Sunday outside City Hall and at the Portland International Jetport, executive orders by President Donald Trump were denounced Monday at a press conference at the University of Maine School of Law.

“In his first week on the job, President Trump attacked women’s reproductive rights, resurrected two pipeline projects that will damage our environment, and targeted Muslims from entering the country,” U.S. Rep Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, said.

Pingree was joined by Maine ACLU Legal Director Zachary Heiden, immigration lawyer Beth Stickney, Maine Conservation Voters Executive Director Maureen Drouin and Susan Johnston, a women’s health and Planned Parenthood advocate.

Trump’s Jan. 27 executive order banning refugees from seven Muslim-majority nations from entering the country for 120 days while the administration reviews vetting processes was criticized as short-sighted and discriminatory by Pingree and Heiden.

“We’ve only heard the justification for this order from the White House, we haven’t heard it from the military or the CIA,” Pingree said.

The executive order was condemned by Pingree, and by U.S. Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Angus King, I-Maine.

Jewish congregations throughout the state asked Trump to repeal the order, and on Sunday, Bishop Robert Deeley of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland expressed his solidarity with those affected by the executive order.

The immigration ban was not the only topic the law school panel objected to. Pingree and Heiden asked Trump to nominate a justice to the U.S. Supreme Court who will protect free speech, and reproductive health and voting rights.

Drouin said justices can decide the fate of decades-old laws and rules written to protect the environment.

“In Maine, our jobs, our health, our way of life, and our children’s future are deeply connected to the health of our environment,” she said.

Johnston, a Cape Elizabeth resident, said she feared the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision making abortion legal across the country could be overturned with a vote from a Trump nominee.

Johnston spoke of her own abortion in 1963, when she became pregnant following high school.

“The thought of being a mother plunged me into deep despair,” she said. “(It was) supposed to be a happy time, but it wasn’t.”

She eventually found a doctor in Pennsylvania to perform an illegal abortion. Now a mother and grandmother, Johnston said she does not want anyone else to face what she endured.

“If access to birth control is restricted, if access to abortion is restricted … millions of women will finds themselves in the same situation I faced years ago,” she said. 

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, speaks Jan. 30 at the University of Maine School of Law in Portland. Joining her in opposing President Donald Trump’s executive orders are Susan Johnston, Zachary Heiden, Beth Stickney and Maureen Drouin.

Approximately 1,000 people rallied on Congress Street in front of Portland City Hall on Sunday morning, Jan. 29, to urge U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, to resist President Donald Trump’s planned dismantling of the Affordable Care Act and his cabinet appointments. The protest was organized by the Maine People’s Alliance.

Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.