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

It Makes Me Angry.

This piece was written by Liz Hays. Liz has been a member of MFP’s Board of Directors for almost 20 years; she first came to Maine Family Planning as a patient in 1983.

When I pass the anti-abortion picketers outside Maine Family Planning, it makes me very angry.

I have been a family planning counselor helping women to go through the decision process to have an abortion. I have supported close friends through the abortion procedure. I have served on the board of Maine Family Planning, helping to ensure that abortion remains a viable option in Maine.

coupleholdinghandsclinicI know the mixed emotional feelings that can accompany an unexpected pregnancy, and how very difficult it can be to make the decision to have an abortion. I also know the relief and peace of mind a woman feels when she knows she can go to a safe, compassionate, high quality medical facility once the decision is made.

A patient has every right to be at the clinic seeking a legal, medical procedure without being subjected to harassment from people who disagree with her decision.  Anti-abortion protesters are entitled to their personal feelings and opinions on abortion, but are not entitled to make another human being feel guilty and traumatized for making the choice that is best for her and her family. Continue reading

There is Strength in Numbers.

Maine Family Planning’s 2016 Pledge-A-Picketer campaign starts today.

Beginning today and continuing for the next 40 days, patients and staff of Maine Family Planning will have to pass through picketers holding grotesque, judgmental signs whenever they come or go from our Augusta health center. Usually these picketers line our entrance only once a week, but from now until March 24th they will be in front of MFP headquarters every day.

These picketers object to our patients’ right to make decisions about their own bodies, families, and lives, and they oppose the hard work that MFP employees do in order to provide safe, confidential, and expert care.

In spite of these picketers—with their signs designed to shame and frighten our patients and staff—we  continue to keep our clinic doors open. We need your support more than ever during this campaign to show patients and staff that they are valued, to keep our clinics safe, and to help us protect reproductive rights and healthcare in Maine.

Support Maine Family Planning’s work by making a pledge of support for every picketer (for example, 10¢ per picketer we see protesting), or by making a one-time gift to our Pledge-A-Picketer campaign. You can also mail your check to:

Maine Family Planning
Pledge-A-Picketer
PO Box 587
Augusta, ME 04332-0587

Watch for updates by following us on Facebook, Twitter, and checking our blog to see how much we are raising and how many picketers we have seen.

We will be posting our total raised on a large banner for our patients and the picketers to see. It may just be a number on a banner, but it represents the strength it takes for patients to pass picketers just to get healthcare, as well as the strength we have when we stand together to protect access to reproductive healthcare in Maine.

Thank you for your support and for making sure the 2016 Pledge-A-Picketer campaign starts strong.

Stand together with Maine Family Planning by making a pledge based on the number of picketers we count or by making a one-time gift to our Pledge-A-Picketer campaign.