For many people, the New Year is a time to take stock of the past year: a time to measure how far we’ve come, to learn from the challenges we’ve faced, and to make resolutions for the year ahead. 2014 was a pretty eventful year for Maine Family Planning specifically and for reproductive rights generally. So before the ball drops, let’s toast to a year of showing up for reproductive rights and sexual health—and resolve to continue working towards reproductive justice for all.
A New Year Brings a New Look:
In early 2014, we changed our name, debuted a new logo, and launched our new (and much improved) website. It feels good to start a new year with a fresh start!
The Birds, The Bees, The Buzz:
Last spring, Maine Family Planning launched The Buzz, a statewide network of volunteers who advocate and educate about sexual health and reproductive rights on social media and in their communities. Buzz members have addressed important issues like reproductive coercion, the stigma surrounding STDs, and negotiating boundaries on our blog.
The Supreme Court Goes Retro:
In June, the Supreme Court ruled that companies may opt out of contraceptive coverage based on religious objections. While it’s possible that this decision will not result in restricted access to contraception, the implication that private, for-profit corporations can make personal health decisions for their employees is worrisome. The bright spot? Ruth Bader Ginsburg issued a (notorious) dissent that inspired a song— and more importantly, inspires us to work on new strategies for ensuring access to care.
Open Door Opens its Doors:
We have proudly offered reproductive health services to patients of any gender at our clinics for years. In August, we expanded the scope of health services available to transgender patients and began offering hormonal transition therapy at our Lewiston clinic. Because it’s time.
Yes Means Yes:
America talked about sexual assault a lot this year, and even though some people said not-so-great things, we think that more conversation is a good thing. From the hashtags #YesAllWomen and #WhyIStayed to Uber to Rolling Stone to Bill Cosby to Columbia University (the list goes on), we’re seeing more conversation, more awareness, and more people taking action. Part of this cultural shift is an emphasis on affirmative consent. In September, California’s governor signed an “affirmative consent” law– and though the law only applies to California universities, we think this is a game-changer when it comes to the way we discuss sexual assault and healthy sexuality.
Hollywood Gets Obvious:
Obvious Child, a mainstream movie that deals with abortion in a realistic way, is released. [Spoiler alert:] Like the majority of women who’ve had an abortion, the main character doesn’t have a change of heart, doesn’t battle an infection, and feels– among other emotions–relief rather than shame or regret. While one in three American women will have an abortion in her lifetime, the average woman’s experience with this safe procedure is almost never portrayed in TV or movies. Two feminist thumbs up.
We Turned Out (and we’ll keep it up):
While the results of this year’s election weren’t necessarily ground-breaking for reproductive rights, Maine did set a national record for voter turnout. Results aside, there’s no denying that Mainers really do care about the future of their state. We came close to expanding Medicaid funding for Family Planning services in 2014: it passed in both the house and senate, and when the Governor vetoed it, the legislature was only three votes short of overriding that veto. This expansion would allow thousands of Mainers to access reproductive health care– so you can be sure we’ll be bringing it back to the legislature (and Maine’s highly engaged voters) in 2015.
We Are All Feminists:
In 2014, Laverne Cox was among Glamour’s women of the year, Mo’Ne Davis was Sports Illustrated’s SportsKid of the Year, and Malala Yousafzai was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Beyonce announced it, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie helped us define it, and when Time asked whether we should consider banning the word feminism, the world answered with a resounding no.
Was 2014 the year of the Feminist? We like to think it’s a trend that will never go out of style.