Back-to-Campus Supplies: Textbooks, Laptop… Birth Control!

Late August in Maine means that many of us are furiously trying to fit studentin a few more lake days, gorging on lobster rolls and ice cream, and squeezing every last drop out of these long, warm days. For some, the end of summer means getting ready to head to college. Those back-to-school days can be absolutely exhilarating, but the to-do lists can also be a little daunting: spend quality time with your family and friends before you go, register for classes, buy books, connect with roommate(s), pack. And pack. And pack.

One more thing to add to the list before you head to campus? Birth control. Continue reading

It’s Not a Dirty Secret (Get Tested)!

coupleholdinghandsclinicImagine a world where testing for sexual transmitted infections (STIs) was as normal and routine as getting a flu shot or your teeth cleaned. Imagine if there was no shame in asking to be tested for chlamydia or gonorrhea or HIV. Imagine how many people–who may have been infected without knowing it– could live healthier lives because they didn’t fear the social repercussions of having an STI.

Sexually transmitted infections (also known as sexually transmitted diseases/ STDs) are self-explanatory: infections that are primarily transmitted through sexual behavior such as vaginal, anal, or oral sex. About 20 million new infections occur every year in the U.S., and about half of those will be among people under the age of 25. If left untreated, STIs can lead to a number of health problems– including infertility, cancer, chronic pain, high-risk pregnancy, and even death.

But here’s the tricky thing about STIs….

Continue reading

Supreme Court Rules on Birth Control Coverage Case

Supreme Court Rules on Birth ControlOn Monday, a sharply divided Supreme Court ruled that family-owned, for-profit corporations may hold religious convictions, and that those corporations may opt out of the federal regulations requiring employer-sponsored health insurance to cover contraceptives, based on the corporation’s religious convictions.

What does this ruling really mean, in practical terms?

Here are some of the most significant repercussions of this decision:

Continue reading

Supreme Court Rules on Buffer Zones ~ What it Means for Family Planning Patients

abortion_clinic_buffer_zone_cc_imgYesterday, the Supreme Court struck down a Massachusetts law that established protected buffer zones around reproductive health centers. This is very disappointing  for those of us who believe people should be able to access health care free from harassment and intimidation.  The decision holds the protesters’ right to harass and intimidate the public as more important than a person’s right to reproductive health care.  The fact that the author of the decision characterizes these protests as “personal, caring, consensual conversations…” demonstrates their lack of understanding of what our patients are up against. Continue reading

Meet Pam ~ A Maine Family Planning Staff Profile

pam jandreau-3For thirty years, Pam Jandreau has been doing family planning work in Aroostook County. That’s right… thirty years!

Earlier this week, Pam and I talked about her family planning work experience, among other things.

How did you start working in family planning? I was taking some college classes and volunteering for the sexual assault hotline. This job came up and I applied and I fell into it. It was a great job right from the start.

What kind of work did you do before coming to family planning? In my twenties, I worked as a nurse’s aide in a nursing home. I totally enjoyed that. Then I lived in Portland for a while and worked at the Executive Inn on Congress Street. I enjoyed that too. I just love working with people.

How is working in family planning different from other health care work you’ve done?  Continue reading

Family Planning in Aroostook County ~ A Photo Narrative

Jennifer Thibodeau here…

It’s been almost a year since Maine Family Planning assumed the management of Fort Kent, Houlton, and Presque Isle Family Planning health centers in Aroostook County, and the staff there have been doing amazing work in their communities!

Last week, I took a trip up to The County to meet with some local community partners and our own staff. It was a lovely few days in northern Maine, and I thought I’d share some photos and notes with our readers. Continue reading

Emily’s Abortion Video ~ Breaking the Silence

emily letts

Emily Letts, abortion counselor at Cherry Hill Women’s Center in New Jersey

In March, Emily Letts posted a video of her abortion online. Last week, Cosmopolitan magazine ran a story about Emily and her video. Since then, the video has gone viral and Emily has received lots of attention, both positive and negative.

I was surprised when I watched Emily’s video, even though I’ve been doing family planning work for over ten years. I guess some part of me had internalized anti-choice messages. My response to Emily’s video was, “Wow, really? That’s it?”

The whole procedure took just a few minutes and didn’t seem that different from other gynecological procedures I’ve experienced. I wondered whether Emily’s abortion was unusual. To find out more, I discussed the video with Kate Gawler, LPN who serves as the Director of Abortion Care Services at Maine Family Planning. Continue reading

Women Considering Adoption Deserve a Thoughtful Look at Their Choices

This piece, by Kate Brogan, our VP of Public Policy, originally ran in the Portland Press Herald, as a “Maine Voices” column.

As I go to work at Maine Family Planning, I am forced to pass by protesters and their signs. One sign in particular always catches my eye: “Adoption is a Loving Option.” This one echoes the theme of this year’s national March for Life, “Adoption: A Noble Decision.”

Women considering abortion are urged by anti-choice protesters to continue their pregnancies so their children may be adopted because “hundreds of thousands are waiting in line for adoption – caring men and women who long to be called by the precious words ‘Mommy’ and ‘Daddy,’ ” to quote U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler of Missouri, speaking at the 2014 March for Life in Washington, D.C.

This view of adoption is simplistic, unrealistic and value-laden. Continue reading

Earth Day, Wildlife Protection, and Family Planning ~ What’s the Connection?

Safe Intercourse Saves Seahorse

Earlier this week, Earth Day celebrations were held in many U.S. cities and around the world. Started in 1970 to raise awareness of the impact human activity was having on the planet, Earth Day is considered the birth of the modern environmental movement.

Here in the U.S. we have a keen responsibility to consider the impact of humans on the environment, because we use much more than our share of the world’s resources. It’s great that so many Americans have become more aware of environmental issues, but we’ll only get so far by reducing, reusing, and recycling. We need to start talking about population growth and its impact on planet Earth.

Since the first Earth Day, 44 years ago, the world’s population has increased by 95% ~ yup, you read that right. In 44 years, the earth’s population went from 3.7 to 7.2 billion. And the folks who study such things, tell us that we can expect to add another 2 billion people to our world by the year 2050. Continue reading

“I Was Too Embarassed to Tell Anyone” ~ A Story of Reproductive Coercion

Maine Family Planning is committed to healthy sexuality for all people and works closely with domestic violence agencies to help prevent abuse and coercion. This piece was written by a Maine woman who hopes that her story will help other survivors of abuse and the people who support them.

*TRIGGER WARNING*: This post deals with a personal account of relationship abuse and may be triggering to some people.

woman at windowI never thought I would share this story outside a couple very close friends or family, but a perfect storm of events made me feel compelled to get it all out. During the week that would have been my daughter’s second birthday, we threw a baby shower for my sister, and a friend posted an article she wrote about reproductive coercion. I told her what it meant to me, and she encouraged me to share my story with others. Continue reading

On The Front Lines