Activist Ady Barkan—a terminally ill ALS patient who has garnered national attention protesting against Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—and reproductive rights advocates including former Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards traveled to Portland, Maine on Sunday for events that aimed to raise awareness about the threat that President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh poses to Americans' healthcare.
Partnering with Mainers for Accountable Leadership and Moral Movement Maine, Barkan ended his national Be A Hero tour on Sunday with a march past Sen. Susan Collins' (R-Maine) office to urge her to break ranks with her party, as she did for the ACA repeal efforts, and oppose Kavanaugh. Thanking Collins for helping to block the GOP's attempt to take healthcare away from millions of Americans last year, Barkan said in a statement: "We're asking her to be a hero again. I'm using my last breath to do it."
— Ady Barkan (@AdyBarkan) August 12, 2018
Chanting, "I believe that we will win," local activists and community members marched with Barkan and laid flowers outside Collins' office:
The march was one of at least two events held in Portland on Sunday in opposition to Kavanaugh. Following the march was the second stop of the #RiseUpForRoe national tour, which launched in New York City on Saturday.
“I am grateful to people who work hard every day to keep abortion safe, legal, and stigma-free.
- Donna, who had an abortion before Roe v. Wade
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— Planned Parenthood Action (@PPact) August 12, 2018
The purpose of the tour, a project of Demand Justice Initiative, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and Planned Parenthood Action Fund, is "to rally women and allies and detail exactly what is at stake with the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, who would gut Roe v. Wade and criminalize abortion, to the Supreme Court," according to the organizers.
Richards joined hosts Fatima Goss Graves, president and chief executive of the National Women's Law Center; journalist Lauren Duca; Symone Sanders, CNN political commentator and former national press secretary for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.); and National Domestic Workers Alliance political director Jessica Morales Rocketto as a special guest for the Portland stop of the tour.
"The folks that are in this room, the Mainers making phone calls, aren't just reproductive choice advocates. This is all hands on deck. What we saw with the ACA is that people just didn't quit. We need to do that now," Richards declared. "If everyone who marched after the inauguration called their senators, we could get this done."
"The energy in this room that you're seeing and that we're seeing from our supporters in Maine shows that people understand what's at stake," Goss Graves told Common Dreams. "They know that a range of issues that affect their lives are really on the line with this nomination and they really believe that they deserve a Supreme Court that's going to respect their rights. And so they're rising up for this."