Last week, Monica Simpson came to Maine to speak to staff, community partners, and supporters of Maine Family Planning. Simpson is the Executive Director of SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, a network of over 80 organizations representing women and communities of color. These organizations have been working to shift the conversation around choice and access by fostering discussion about the ways in which people’s identities, communities, and government intersect to influence women’s ability to make decisions about their own bodies and families. Twenty years ago, they named this framework Reproductive Justice.
Reproductive Justice (RJ) recognizes that the right to have or not have children and the right to parent in safe and healthy environments are human rights–and demands that governments and society ensure that legal, family, and community conditions support these decisions. People need to be able to make these choices and access services safely and affordably–otherwise, they aren’t real choices.
We find enormous value in the Reproductive Justice framework, and we were inspired and invigorated by Monica’s visit.
In many ways, we are working to address some of the primary tenets of Reproductive Justice.
- Maine Family Planning provides Family Support Programs such as WIC, MaineFamilies, and of course, reproductive health services. Supporting parents in taking good care of their children and planning their families allows Mainers to parent with dignity.
- We provide LGBTQ-inclusive and Gender Affirming Healthcare, because the right to decide whether or not to have children and to parent safely should never depend on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The RJ movement recognizes everyone’s right to bodily autonomy and self-determination; we believe this extends to a person’s gender expression and identity.
- We are working to ensure that Mainers can access family planning services throughout the state, regardless of age, income, or geography.
- We provide confidential care to teens without requiring parental consent, because age shouldn’t outweigh a person’s right to control their own body.
- We offer a sliding scale based on income and family size, and we accept MaineCare, MediCare, and private insurance–because people deserve health care, regardless of financial circumstances.
- Many of of our 18 clinics are in rural communities. Through the use of telemedicine, Rx By Mail, and our Patient Portal, we are working to ensure that people in even the most rural locations can access the care they need.
- Finally, our Public Affairs and Advocacy program works with coalitions and legislators to ensure that statewide policy supports Mainers’ right to determine whether or not to parent, ensures healthy pregnancies, supports healthy and safe families, and respects all people’s right to control their own bodies.
We still have more to learn and more to accomplish.
- As an organization, we need to create new connections and build upon existing partnerships with communities of color, immigrant and refugee communities, and tribal communities. There’s still much work to be done in building connections with communities of faith and with clergy in Maine, as well.
- We recognize that Reproductive Justice means working in coalition with diverse organizations with missions different from ours; we will continue to foster relationships with domestic violence agencies, sexual assault services, environmental justice movements, labor organizations, family support systems, anti-violence organizations, and others working to create safe, healthy, and just communities.
- As always, MFP’s Public Affairs and Advocacy program will remain present and proactive at the statehouse to help protect the reproductive rights of all Maine people.
We’re excited to be a part of the growing Reproductive Justice movement in our state. We are committed to the health and rights of all Mainers, who should be able to have children, remain child-free, and to raise their families in safe and healthy environments–regardless of race, gender, income, nationality, age, sexual orientation, or any other factor.