Category Archives: Abortion Care

Thank you.

During the 40 days of Lent each year, anti-choice protesters descend on Maine Family Planning’s Augusta headquarters to spew lies, judgment, hate, and to intimidate our patients and staff. These picketers can not understand the lives of those who enter our gates, yet they show up daily to harass patients, despite the fact that protesting does not change the minds of people who know what’s best for themselves and their families.

In an attempt to make lemons out of lemonade (and to show our patients and staff that they are supported by many of their neighbors), Maine Family Planning runs a Pledge-A-Picketer fundraising campaign during these same 40 days. This year, we raised about half as much as we typically do; the Christian Civic League of Maine claimed that their prayers were responsible for defunding abortion and family planning.

But that wasn’t the end. Over the past week, Mike Tipping, Dan Savage, and advocates all over the world stepped up to speak out against the CCL’s harassment and bigotry.

Since the CCL’s claim of righteous victory, we’ve received almost $24,000 from over 720 new donors in six countries and 45 states (pushing our total over $29,000).

Many of you stepped up and donated, despite not knowing Maine Family Planning or the work we do. Perhaps you heard about our effort from  Dan Savage, Mike Tipping, Think Progress, Raw Story, Wonkette, Daily Kos, or our supporters on social media. Despite the fact that many of you don’t know us, you’ve made it clear that you trust family planning clinics to provide reproductive care, and that you trust women, men, teens, and trans* people to make the decisions that are right for themselves and their families.

The work we do is important. We provide confidential reproductive health care that people can afford, including birth control, pap smears, breast exams, STI testing and treatment, pregnancy testing and counseling, and queer and trans-friendly care. At some of our centers (we operate 19 practices at 18 sites), we provide abortion care, primary care, support for growing families, needle exchange services, and hormone therapy for transgender patients.

We work with schools throughout the state to provide evidence-based, comprehensive sex education. We work with legislators, policy makers, and advocates to ensure that sexual and reproductive freedom are protected in Maine. We work in coalition with many other organizations to address sexual assault and domestic violence, to promote the rights of LGBTQIA Mainers, and to help make our state a place where people can create their families safely and with dignity.

Our patients, like many across the country, can’t always afford the health care they need. Health insurance does not always cover the cost of reproductive health services, and thanks to corporations like Hobby Lobby, it may not always have to. We do receive federal Title X funds— and (like many Planned Parenthood centers) we rely on those funds to keep our doors open. Federal dollars make sexual and reproductive health care available to many people who would not otherwise be able to afford services, but those dollars do not always cover the full cost of care, are not available for every patient, and don’t cover every service.

That’s one reason your support is so important. Throwing up our hands and allowing basic reproductive health care to be a luxury afforded only to those with enough money is not an option. This is a point you’ve helped us make and a promise you’re helping us to fulfill.

Access to family planning allows people to pursue education, to make a living wage, to leave abusive relationships, and to create the healthy families they choose. Celebrating a lack of funding for family planning services means celebrating the perpetuation of inequality.

Your support accomplished something else, too. You sent an emphatic message to those who would foster discrimination, inequality, and hatred in the name of religion: bigotry is not divine.

We’re proud to be an organization that works to promote sexual health and reproductive justice in Maine, and we are grateful to have received such an enormous outpouring of support for our work and our patients.

Thank you.

p.s. Haven’t donated yet but want to? Now’s your chance.

Update: as of Monday, April 13th, you’ve helped us raise over $40,000! Thank you, thank you, thank you forty thousand times over. 

PAP 40k 2

 

The Other Side of the Picket Line

Last spring, I unexpectedly lost a pregnancy at the end of my first trimester. Seven months later, the week before Christmas, I miscarried again. In addition to the physical and emotional burden of the second loss, I also experienced a significant financial one: after deductibles and co-payments, it cost my single-income family nearly $3,000, including the D&C – known in another context as an abortion.

After discovering I was pregnant again in February, I scarcely had time to develop a response before it became clear that it wasn’t going to be a viable pregnancy. This time, my first call wasn’t to my midwife – it was to Maine Family Planning.

Some miscarriages resolve naturally, but others require medical intervention, and that, I had discovered, can come at great expense.

WOMAN-DRIVING

I had no hesitation about calling MFP. As a queer-identified woman in a heterosexual primary relationship, I’ve gratefully accessed affordable and judgement-free services from family planning agencies for many years. I did have one very serious reservation, however: I knew that going to MFP in March would mean driving through the gauntlet of 40 Days of Life, the annual anti-choice demonstration outside their gates. And I had to think hard about whether I could face a third devastating loss, this time more affordably, but accompanied by public shaming from an assembly of my Maine neighbors.

People accessing abortion care may be feeling grief, like me. They may be feeling fear, or regret, or relief – like me. No one seeks these services without some mix of these emotions, and likely many more, but few people drive through without a deep feeling that it is what they must do. And not one of us deserves to have the emotions surrounding that experience compounded by the uncompassionate judgement of strangers. Continue reading

On Our Radar: (Another) Parental Consent Bill in Maine

During the upcoming 2015 legislative session, the Maine Legislature will consider LD 83, a bill that would require minors (under 18) and adults under guardianship to get the written consent of a parent or legal guardian in order to obtain an abortion. If this feels like a  rerun, that’s because it is–legislators defeated a version of the bill in 2013 and 2011, in part because it’s so out of touch with the way real Maine families work.

Maine already has an adult involvement law, and it works. For over 25 years, Maine’s adult involvement law has encouraged family involvement in a teen’s decision to seek abortion, while providing young people with the guidance and support necessary to evaluate all of the options available. The current law is a bipartisan success story–the result of a compromise between republicans and democrats, backed by organizations that support abortion rights and those that oppose them. Our state’s adult involvement law stands as a national model because it works– it truly protects and respects the health, safety, and dignity of young people.  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

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

In Their Own Words ~ Abortion Care Patients Tell Their Truth

seek-truthEvery year, during the 40 Days protests, we invite our family planning and abortion care patients to counter the lies outside out gates by sharing their own personal truths. This year, we got some powerful comments about the picketers, the Maine Family Planning staff, and the importance of preserving reproductive rights.

Their powerful comments speak for themselves and don’t really need any elaboration.

This week, we share these three with you:

Continue reading

A Brighter, Healthier Future, With the Help of Family Planning

lemons and lemonadeWhen we chose the theme Turning Lemons into Lemonade for our Pledge-a-Picketer campaign this year, we were thinking about the protesters at our gates as the lemons and the support for our services as lemonade. It makes perfect sense and it’s a catchy title.

This week, as I was reading through some of the comments we’ve received from our patients, I was struck by a totally different way that the lemons into lemonade theme can be used in relation to our work.

Reflecting on the stories our patients shared, I realized that when we provide  family planning and abortion care services we are helping the women and families who rely on us to turn the lemons that life presents them into the lemonade of a brighter, healthier future.

I’d like to share two very different patient experiences – in their own words – to illustrate what I mean. Here’s the first one: Continue reading

Exposed ~ The 5 Most Common Lies About Abortion

liesNote: This blog post first ran in March 2013. We are re-posting it because the information is  relevant to our current Pledge-a-Picketer campaign.

We see it all the time, right outside the gates of our Augusta health center.

Anti-choice protesters spend enormous amounts of time and energy spreading lies about abortion care services. At Maine Family Planning, we prefer to focus on the truth — backed up by decades of research in the field.

Here’s the truth about five of the most common lies about abortion. Continue reading

Protesting Doesn’t Reduce Abortion. Effective Birth Control Does.

This piece originally ran in the Bangor Daily News.

This week marked the start of “40 Days,” an anti-abortion protest that is held all over the United States at this time of year. Every day for about six weeks, patients, visitors and staff of Maine Family Planning in Augusta will pass a gauntlet of protesters at our front gates.

These protesters wave rosaries, sing hymns and pray loudly. They gather near the gates, trying to slow down the cars approaching our parking lot. They make no distinction between patients who are coming in for an annual exam, to pick up their birth control supplies, or to get life-saving breast and cervical health screenings. Worst of all, the protesters will display and carry signs spreading lies about abortions and the women who have them.

Are these protesters interested in knowing the facts surrounding abortion? I suspect not.

Based on what I’ve seen of their tactics in my 25-plus years doing family planning work, they don’t want to hear the truth. However, Bangor Daily News readers deserve better. They deserve to know the real story of abortion in our country and our state. Continue reading