All posts by MFP

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

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.

Only a few days left to get covered!

Open Enrollment in Marketplace Health Insurance plans ends this coming Sunday, January 31st—so if you still don’t have health insurance for 2016, take some time over the next few days to make sure you’re covered, won’t have to pay a penalty, and most importantly, rest easy knowing you’ll have the financial support you need to take good care of your health.

As our partners at Consumers for Affordable Healthcare write:

“This year, the penalty for not having coverage is going up. An adult who chooses to go without coverage in 2016 will owe a penalty of at least $695 when they file their taxes next year. And remember, you have to have coverage for all of 2016 to avoid the penalty when you file next spring. You cannot sign up for a plan at tax time to avoid a penalty for last year.

Health coverage may be more affordable than you think. Last year, 9 out of 10 Mainers who applied qualified for lower costs. A family of four can make up to $95,000 a year and still get financial assistance to lower the cost of a plan.”

To get assistance enrolling in health coverage today (January 29th), you can contact Maine Family Planning or Consumers for Affordable Healthcare:

  • Maine Family Planning: 207-248-3928
  • Consumers for Affordable Healthcare: 1-800-965-7476

Don’t need our help signing up? You can enroll online anytime by the end of the day on January 31st at www.healthcare.gov, or by calling the Marketplace at 1-800-318-2596.

There will be opportunities to sign up after January 31st– but they’re limited.  Continue reading

43 Years Later: Reclaiming Roe for All

This piece was written by  Andrea Irwin, George A. Hill and Meagan Gallagher and originally ran in the Bangor Daily News on January 21, 2016. 

We lead three nonprofit, publicly accessible health care providers who provide comprehensive reproductive and sexual health care for men and women across the state. Together, we serve more than 21,500 Mainers per year. More than half of them are low income.

Among the comprehensive pregnancy-related care we provide is abortion. Like the rest of our services, abortion is a safe, legal medical procedure. Unlike the rest of our services, abortion has been singled out by politicians for exclusion from MaineCare coverage. While MaineCare will pay for all pregnancy-related care for women who choose to carry a pregnancy to term, it withholds coverage from eligible women who decide to have an abortion.

That means MaineCare-eligible women who decide abortion is the best thing for them and their families must pay for the procedure out of pocket. As providers, we know firsthand that one of the greatest challenges for women seeking care is financial.  Continue reading

You’re Invited! Join us for Women’s Day at the State House

Maine Women’s Day at the State House is coming up on Thursday, January 21st, and we’d love for you to join us! With the start of the 2016 Legislative Session, it’s important to make sure legislators, press, and allies are paying attention to how policy decisions affect Maine women. Join us to help raise the visibility of Maine women, learn more about policies that will impact our lives during this session, and strengthen your skills to advocate on the issues that matter most to you.

Thursday, January 21, 2016
9:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Maine State House & Cross Office Building, Augusta
Please wear RED!
Register here: http://bit.ly/womensday2016

Need more reasons to join us for Women’s Day at the State House? Here are our top three:  Continue reading

Self-care is a Political Act

It feels like I’ve been drowning in articles about New Year’s resolutions this week. I struggle with the whole Resolution thing, though, because it often seems that January is a time when we’re encouraged to declare war on our lives (or at least our bodies). We spend so much time working to reclaim our bodies from those who would control us—why turn the tables on ourselves every New Year?

self preservation lorde

I think we do battle with ourselves plenty over the course of the year. I don’t think we need to feel pressured to do (yet one more) thing that brings more stress, makes us feel bad about ourselves, or ultimately doesn’t serve our physical or emotional well-being.

What’s more, many of us spend a lot of time doing important work: taking care of others, working for social justice, and doing our part—however small—to try to make the world a better place. We’re told that the work itself should be its own reward, when in truth, it can be both rewarding and also really exhausting. We’re told that self-care is frivolous, superficial, or an excuse to disengage. Many of us—women especially—are shamed into ignoring their own physical and mental health, sometimes to the point where we just don’t have the energy to participate in the work that we care about deeply.

The world can be a scary, discouraging, sometimes tragic place, but it’s a world that needs youContinue reading