There Has To Be Room for Stories Like Mine

The following interview was conducted with a Maine woman who has had a medication abortion. She remains anonymous in order to protect her privacy and safety.

Why do you feel it’s important to share your story?

I want to do my part to de-stigmatize abortion while using my story to help expand access and options for reproductive health care here in Maine.

When I looked around for sympathetic abortion stories, all I could find were narratives about people who chose to get abortions because they were survivors of incest and sexual assault, or they were teenagers living in extreme poverty. I understand why some organizations lift up these kinds of narratives. They underscore the profound human rights abuses that occur when people are denied the right to abortion care and provide a powerful counter-point to right-wing arguments that anti-choice laws protect women and girls. I think that these stories are important and need to be heard.

choose when and if

However, these stories do not reflect my own experience. When I got pregnant I was 29-years-old, in a loving partnership, and was using birth control. Neither my partner nor I had a job at the time, and our financial situation did play a role in my decision to terminate my pregnancy. But it was just one factor, and it could have been overcome. When it came down to it, I just didn’t want a child at that time. I thought I might want one in the future, but it was not the right moment. I have long believed that there is nothing wrong with abortion and that people should get to choose when and if they have kids.  Continue reading

Trump’s comments aside, we already punish women who seek abortions

This piece originally appeared in the Bangor Daily News on April 4, 2016. 

Last week, Donald Trump stated that there should be some kind of punishment for women who have abortions. We saw a heartening and swift response from friends, colleagues, leaders and the media: Trump’s comments were outrageous and infuriating.

We’re glad people are angry about Trump’s comments about abortion. We hope people will continue to push back against any attempts to punish people who have abortions, provide abortions, or simply consider abortion. It’s important to recognize, however, that Trump simply said out loud what opponents of abortion have believed for years, what Ted Cruz has voted for and what John Kasich has enacted.

Since 2011, states have passed nearly 300 laws restricting abortion, passing 57 in the past year alone. In states like Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana, abortion has been so severely restricted it may as well be illegal for a large number of women.

Let’s be clear: Those who exercise their constitutionally protected right to seek, access and provide abortion are already being punished, and any efforts to restrict or ban abortion are attempts — either overt or veiled — to punish women who seek abortion.  Continue reading

Thanks for making Pledge-A-Picketer 2016 a Success!

Through your contributions and pledges, we raised $10,018.00 during our 2016 Pledge-A-Picketer campaign.

PAP 10k edited

This came in the form of 50 individual contributions and 20 pledges. Our individual gifts ranged from $3.00 to $1,000.00, with the majority being $25 or less. Pledges of just a few cents per picketer added up quickly , totaling almost half of the full amount raised. This proves that there is strength in numbers and that every dollar goes a long way toward reaching our goals.

We counted 1,105 picketers over the 40 day Pledge-A-Picketer campaign–that’s a whole lot of judgment and intimidation. While there is some relief now that the daily protests have ended, we continue to see picketers at our Augusta office every week. Your continued advocacy and support is crucial to ensuring that patients can access reproductive care all year long.

We are so grateful for your support. Knowing that our friends care about the work we do gives us the strength to pass the picketers’ hateful signs with courage rather than fear. On behalf of our patients and staff, we can’t thank you enough for your generosity.

Carol M. Goetz
Vice President of Development

thank you note DIN

Throwback Thursday: One Year Ago

It’s been almost a year since the Christian Civic League announced that their prayers were the reason Maine Family Planning’s 2015 Pledge-A-Picketer campaign raised about half of the previous year’s total.   In response, Mike Tipping and Dan Savage went to bat for MFP by spreading the word about the CCL’s outrageous claims, and with your help, we far exceeded our 2015 Pledge-A-Picketer goal.

52k polariodWe are so grateful for your support and for the generosity shown by people around the world. Last year, we raised over $60,000 through almost 1,500 contributions, with an average gift of less than $50. At least one gift came from every one of the 50 states and from as far away as the UK , Thailand, and Australia.

It was an amazing outpouring of love and support for the patients and staff who have to pass the hateful signs and judgmental picketers throughout February and March. We cannot thank you enough.

There’s only a week left for the 2016 Pledge-A-Picketer campaign, but we’re not done raising money to support reproductive health care in Maine. Don’t let the picketers think their judgment, intimidation, and lies have the power to stop us: help us raise $3,000 in the next 7 days. Continue reading

Dreaming of Sand and Surf?

It’s SPRING BREAK season! Which means….

You’re probably thinking about this:sun tanning

Instead of this:meetingAnd you’d much rather be here:

hawaii scene 2Instead of here:desk

If you are dreaming of sand and surf, you can support Maine Family Planning by purchasing raffle tickets for an all-inclusive trip to Hawaii. Check out all the details here.

Tickets are $100 each and we will be drawing the winner at our Spring Soiree on May 7th at the Portland Country Club. Only 145 tickets will be sold, so don’t wait to get your ticket.

Buy a raffle ticket online!

Or print & send this flyer to MFP by mail with your check!

Strength in Numbers

hands heartWe’re about a month into our annual Pledge-A-Picketer campaign, and we want you to know just how much your support adds up. When we say there is Strength in Numbers, it’s because we know that we are stronger together—but this phrase also speaks to the numbers that illustrate how much the work we do counts. We hope you are proud of these numbers too, because your contributions and support make them possible.

  • We offer birth control, STD testing and treatment, cancer screenings, well-woman visits, and LGBTQ-friendly care at 18 family planning centers in Maine. We work with 15 Federally Qualified Health Centers, 4 Planned Parenthood of Northern New England centers, and 3 School-Based Health Centers to provide reproductive health care to 22,000 Mainers.
  • In 2015, there were 3 non-profit, free-standing abortion clinics in Maine. Now that we’ve expanded the availability of medication abortion by using telemedicine technology, there are 19. This makes a huge difference in terms of access to abortion, as 61.3% of Maine’s population lives in rural areas.
  • The teen birth rate in Maine has dropped by almost 50% over the last decade, thanks in part to our work to support evidence-based sexuality education in Maine schools. This year alone, over 1,700 students have received comprehensive sex education as a result of our work with schools.

As of today, we are 2/3rds through the 40 day Pledge-A-Picketer campaign, and 33 supporters have donated $6,205.00. Continue reading

Connie Adler, MD: A Physician of Courage, Conscience and Compassion

Dr Adler 1Maine Family Planning is proud to congratulate Connie Adler, MD, who will be inducted into The Maine Women’s Hall of Fame on March 19th. Honorees are women whose work has had a significant, enduring positive impact on the lives of women in Maine.

Dr. Adler certainly fits the bill; as one colleague stated in his nomination letter:

“She is a force of nature who has let nothing stand in her way in her quest for better health care for the women of Maine.  In her practice of medicine she has worked tirelessly to provide access to quality women’s health services for all women regardless of race, socioeconomic status, or co-existing mental health or substance abuse problems.

It has been Adler’s mission to promote recognition that the care of women must include the pursuit of reproductive rights, contraceptive choice, and prevention of domestic violence and sexual assault—and that healthcare must be accessible to all Mainers, regardless of where they live or how much they make. As another colleague notes:

Dr. Adler’s advocacy in promoting women’s healthcare has made a significant difference for Maine women that spans beyond a generation.  Her work includes all levels of women’s care, from counseling on nutrition and maternal health for pregnant women, working on issues that educate the community on domestic violence to bringing global perspectives on women’s healthcare.Continue reading

Everything You Need To Know About the Most Important Abortion Case in a Generation

If you’re like me, your social media has been filled with posts about Wednesday’s Supreme Court hearing on Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the challenge of a Texas law that has shut down most of Texas’s abortion providers.

The sheer amount of information and analysis can be overwhelming, so instead of adding to the information overload, we thought we’d share some of our favorite links about the case and what it means for abortion rights in Maine and around the country.

Want to get up to speed on what Whole Women’s Health is about and what it could mean?

This video sums it up.

Why do we need to increase safety regulations for abortions? Are abortions risky?

This article from ThinkProgress runs down the facts.

Want to know what’s at stake?

Here’s a story about what it might mean for abortion access in Maine.

And here’s some national context (click for detailed view):

HB2 infographic

So, how did things go during the Supreme Court’s hearing?

Well, the Supreme Court doesn’t allow cameras to record their proceedings (Crazy, huh?), but an audio recording should be released tomorrow. In the meantime, here’s a great summary of the highlights of the oral arguments. (We might be a little biased. Go, RBG!)

Like you, MFP will be looking forward to the Court’s decision on this major abortion case, which will likely be issued in June. Once the decision is issued, we’ll have a lot to say about what it means for Maine and the country.  Check back here for MFP’s perspective!

 ~ Kate Brogan, VP of Public Affairs

A Huge Leap Forward: Expanding Access to Abortion in Maine

Across the United States, reproductive health clinics are struggling to keep their doors open in the face of state-imposed restrictions, provider shortages, and hostile anti-choice environments. Since 2011, 162 clinics have closed, while only 21 new centers have opened.

As of today, things look different in Maine.

Maine Family Planning is increasing access to medication abortion in underserved and rural communities through the use of telemedicine technology. Patients who would otherwise have to drive long distances to access services in Bangor, Augusta, or Portland may now be able to access care at an additional 16 Maine Family Planning centers.

With this expansion, Maine joins Iowa and Minnesota as one of only three states where abortion services are known to be available via telemedicine. Despite its relative rarity, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has formally recognized that telemedicine “can help to bring this safe, effective method of reproductive care to the women who need it.” This hasn’t stopped 18 states from enacting bans on the use of telemedicine for medication abortion.

The right to abortion is meaningless if you can’t get to the clinic.  Continue reading

Shame free, Blame free, Empowering: notes from our supporters

signs 6It’s one thing to see signs containing lies, displaying graphic images, and conveying messages intended to frighten our patients and staff once a week, but it’s another thing to be berated by it every day. As strong proponents of reproductive healthcare and a woman’s right to make decisions about her life and her body, we have learned to tune out the messages of hate and anger. The problem is that no matter how strong your resolve, no one can tune it out entirely.

provider support 2To counter the picketers’ dishonest, judgmental signs meant to shame our staff and patients, we like to remind ourselves of all the good that comes from the work being done at our health centers. Reading about the experiences of our patients strengthens our resolve to stand strong in the face of opposition. Hearing why our supporters get involved reminds us that we are not facing the hatred of our opponents alone–and neither are our patients.

We’ve asked donors and supporters to tell us why they stand together with Maine Family Planning, and we’ve received some incredibly supportive messages. We think of these when we see the protesters signs and we remember that there is strength in numbers.

Here are some of our favorites: Continue reading

On The Front Lines