Category Archives: Birth Control

May We Suggest a New Year’s Revolution?

It’s January, which means it’s New Year’s Resolution season. Maybe you resolved to take good care of your health, to give back to your community, or to save more money.  Because taking care of ourselves can be a political act (as Audre Lorde reminded us), might we suggest you make a New Year’s Revolution, instead?

Whether or not your resolution feels revolutionary, there’s something nice about a new year and a fresh start– and it’s especially satisfying to know you’ve done something kind for yourself (we can help!). Continue reading

Here’s Lookin’ At You, 2014.

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:

TheBuzz_Honeycomb_FinalLast 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:

Supreme Court Rules on Birth ControlIn 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:

yes neon

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:

women collageIn 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.

beyonce feminist

Back-to-Campus Supplies: Textbooks, Laptop… Birth Control!

Late August in Maine means that many of us are furiously trying to fit studentin a few more lake days, gorging on lobster rolls and ice cream, and squeezing every last drop out of these long, warm days. For some, the end of summer means getting ready to head to college. Those back-to-school days can be absolutely exhilarating, but the to-do lists can also be a little daunting: spend quality time with your family and friends before you go, register for classes, buy books, connect with roommate(s), pack. And pack. And pack.

One more thing to add to the list before you head to campus? Birth control. Continue reading

Supreme Court Rules on Birth Control Coverage Case

Supreme Court Rules on Birth ControlOn Monday, a sharply divided Supreme Court ruled that family-owned, for-profit corporations may hold religious convictions, and that those corporations may opt out of the federal regulations requiring employer-sponsored health insurance to cover contraceptives, based on the corporation’s religious convictions.

What does this ruling really mean, in practical terms?

Here are some of the most significant repercussions of this decision:

Continue reading

Earth Day, Wildlife Protection, and Family Planning ~ What’s the Connection?

Safe Intercourse Saves Seahorse

Earlier this week, Earth Day celebrations were held in many U.S. cities and around the world. Started in 1970 to raise awareness of the impact human activity was having on the planet, Earth Day is considered the birth of the modern environmental movement.

Here in the U.S. we have a keen responsibility to consider the impact of humans on the environment, because we use much more than our share of the world’s resources. It’s great that so many Americans have become more aware of environmental issues, but we’ll only get so far by reducing, reusing, and recycling. We need to start talking about population growth and its impact on planet Earth.

Since the first Earth Day, 44 years ago, the world’s population has increased by 95% ~ yup, you read that right. In 44 years, the earth’s population went from 3.7 to 7.2 billion. And the folks who study such things, tell us that we can expect to add another 2 billion people to our world by the year 2050. Continue reading

“I Was Too Embarassed to Tell Anyone” ~ A Story of Reproductive Coercion

Maine Family Planning is committed to healthy sexuality for all people and works closely with domestic violence agencies to help prevent abuse and coercion. This piece was written by a Maine woman who hopes that her story will help other survivors of abuse and the people who support them.

*TRIGGER WARNING*: This post deals with a personal account of relationship abuse and may be triggering to some people.

woman at windowI never thought I would share this story outside a couple very close friends or family, but a perfect storm of events made me feel compelled to get it all out. During the week that would have been my daughter’s second birthday, we threw a baby shower for my sister, and a friend posted an article she wrote about reproductive coercion. I told her what it meant to me, and she encouraged me to share my story with others. 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

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

Birth Control Method Risks ~ The Real, True NuvaRing Story

Another month, another sensationalistic article about women’s health, right? You may have seen Vanity Fair’s recent piece, Danger In The Ring, and wondered what’s going on with the NuvaRing– a fairly popular method of birth control that Vanity Fair decries as “potentially lethal.”

First off, let’s chat about the NuvaRing. It’s a small, flexible ring that is inserted into the vagina once a month and releases hormones into the body, and it’s about 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. The ring contains the same hormones (estrogen and progestin) as many birth control pills and the patch. But the ring only has to be inserted once a month and it isn’t visible on the body. The most common side effects of the ring are irregular bleeding, breast tenderness, and nausea.

A rare but much more serious side effect of the NuvaRing is the risk of blood clots. This risk is the focus of some recent articles. The hormones in any combined-hormonal method (the pill, patch, and the ring) can make your blood clot more easily. If a blot clot forms in the leg (called deep vein thrombosis or DVT), it can travel to the lungs, which is very serious and can be fatal if not treated.

So what is the risk of using the NuvaRing, relative to other risks?  Continue reading

Good News ~ Bad News: Goodbye 2013, Hello 2014

Another year has drawn to a close and we’ve got a brand new year ahead of us. It’s the perfect time to take stock of where we’re been and where we’re headed in the world of reproductive health and rights in the U.S. and here in Maine.

Here’s a piece of good news from 2013: a major study published this year showed that intrauterine devices (IUDs) are safe for teens and there’s no reason to deny them this option. This is a great affirmation of the work of the FPA, where we’ve seen a significant increase in the number of patients getting IUDs and other long-acting, reversible contraceptives at our health centers.

Increased use of IUDs is one of the major reasons for this other bit of good news from the past year: across the country, teen pregnancy rates reached historic lows (again!).

And that’s great! Because access to family planning contraceptive services is linked to all sorts of positive outcomes, including higher incomes later in life.

All of this makes us wonder why, despite the proven value of birth control, certain groups of people keep trying to prevent access to contraceptive care for women and teens.

Consider the following… Continue reading