Category Archives: Family Planning Association of Maine

#GiveDifferently for #GivingTuesday

Maine Family Planning is getting ready for #GivingTuesday and we need your support!

It’s that time of year again; the weather is getting colder and for many of us in Maine that means breaking out the shovels and snow tires. It also means that the holiday season is approaching quickly. While you may be starting to think about holiday shopping lists and hosting family gatherings, Maine Family Planning is getting ready for #GivingTuesday!

giving tuesdayIn case you haven’t heard, the goal of #GivingTuesday is to create a global day of giving back, celebrating generosity and kindness. The day itself falls on the Tuesday following American Thanksgiving each year. This year #GivingTuesday is on December 1st.

We all know that this time of year can be incredibly hectic so we’ve come up with some ways to #GiveDifferently with Maine Family Planning. Monthly gifts spread your contribution over twelve months, so you don’t spend your holiday bonus all in one place. Giving in someone else’s name makes a great holiday gift, especially for that activist in your life who cares passionately about reproductive rights. There are even ways to contribute while you finish up your holiday shopping with Amazon Smiles and of course, one time gifts make a big difference too!

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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. 

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A Voice That Resonates

As the end of February approaches, it’s 14 degrees below zero outside, the sun is shining, and the annual onslaught of daily picketers (in honor of Lent) are keeping warm in their cars across from our Augusta Health Center. Before their strategic retreat into warm cars, however, they did manage to pound their deceptive and degrading signs into the frozen snow banks on either side of our driveway.

Here is what one Augusta Health Center visitor wrote about her experience in her recent letter to the editor of the Portland Press Herald:

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Harassing Maine Family Planning clients is hateful

I recently visited Maine Family Planning [in Augusta], where protesters have gathered on the occasion of Lent to picket. They littered the side of the street with vulgar and provocative signs aimed at shaming those coming and going.

Whatever position you take on the issue of abortion and reproductive rights, it was clear to me that these people have hate in their hearts that is antithetical to the Christian beliefs they claim to espouse.

As an ethical issue, which I believe it is, this is an issue that merits conversation. But Maine Family Planning is a medical facility that provides information and health care to women and families that may not otherwise have it. Standing outside and harassing patients and staff as they come and go is hateful (and a little immature), and it is certainly not a valid Christian response.

When a person or group acts in ways to bully, condemn and humiliate, they undermine their ability to speak on moral issues with any legitimacy. Furthermore, I fail to recognize the connection between these demonstrations and the Christian season of Lent.

Lent is a time of introspection when Christians engage in prayer and self-denial in repentance and preparation leading up to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. It is not a time for these types of  antics, and it is certainly not a time for nailing others to a cross. Shame on them.

Maria Elmshauser, Gardiner, ME

I do not know Ms. Elmshauser. I am very grateful to her, however, for her articulate and eloquent voice, a voice that resonates with every patient, staff member, and visitor to our building, especially during these 40 days. I hope that it resonates with you, too.

Your support makes a difference for us and the nearly 24,000 Mainers we serve, enabling Maine Family Planning to, as Ms. Elmshauser states, “provide information and health care to women and families that may not otherwise have it.” 

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

vezina sig

 

President, Maine Family Planning Board of Directors

P.S. If you already have supported Maine Family Planning this fiscal year, thank you! If not, please consider following one of these links:

What Would Your Sign Express?

Maine Family Planning’s 2015 Pledge-A-Picketer Campaign 

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From February 18 to March 29, Maine Family Planning’s headquarters in Augusta will be picketed every day by protesters with dishonest messages and graphic images on signs intended to frighten and shame our patients and staff. These protesters oppose the right of Mainers to control their own sexual health and reproductive lives.

Please support our patients and staff by making a pledge based on the number of protesters we count (for instance, 10¢ per picketer), or by making a one-time gift to our Pledge-A-Picketer campaign. You can make a per-picketer pledge here, make a one-time gift online, or mail your check to:

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

Tell us what YOUR sign would say. Continue reading

So Much To Be Thankful For, So Many Ways To Give Back!

i-careOnce in awhile they let me out of my fundraising office and unleash me on the unsuspecting public. This week’s blog isn’t about specific policies or politics or programs– but it IS about easy ways to support Maine Family Planning. Please don’t delete me. Read on!

First, for the first time ever we’re participating in #GivingTuesday on December 2nd. As the #GivingTuesday website states:

“We have a day for giving thanks. We have two for getting deals. Now, we have #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back. On Tuesday, December 2, 2014, charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give.”   Continue reading

Meet Don ~ A Family Planning Staff Profile

Four days a week, Don Leighton is the voice on the phone and the welcoming face at the front desk of the FPA’s administrative offices in Augusta. He’s also responsible for keeping patients and staff safe while visiting and working here.

Earlier this month, I chatted with Don for a bit and learned some really interesting things about him. Like the fact that for much of his career, he was holding down a full-time job and operating a greenhouse business with his wife.

Don Leighton, the voice & face of the front desk in Augusta

What did you do for work before you came to the FPA?

Well, I joined the Coast Guard while I was in high school and I did that for eight years. I was on the Hallowell police department for three years and then I spent twenty-four years as a surgical aide at the Togus VA hospital. I also spent some time as a policeman with the VA security service.

I tried retirement, but that didn’t last very long. I went back into security, working for a private firm. That’s when I started working here; that was in 1998. I’ve always taken care of people. This job melds everything I’ve been doing all my life.

What was security like when you started here? 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

Plan B — Will it Work for You?

Earlier this week, news outlets were filled with warnings about the differences in the effectiveness of emergency contraception (EC) relative to a woman’s weight or body mass index (BMI).

In case you missed it, the big news is that the European version of Plan B will start carrying a warning telling women over 165 pounds that the drug is less effective for them and women over 176 pounds that it likely won’t work for them at all.

The news raises concerns among U.S. women about the effectiveness of Plan B for women of a certain size. Here at the FPA, our clinical leadership was quick to respond. We’ve read the studies and reviewed the recommendations from experts in the field of reproductive health, in order to update our own clinical guidelines in relation to EC.

Here’s the scoop. Continue reading

Family Planning Matters! Five Reasons to Watch & Share This New Video

What a week it’s been!

Unable to come to an agreement on the budget, the U.S. government shutdown for the first time since 1995.

Despite opposition from conservatives, the new Health Insurance Marketplace opened and millions of uninsured Americans visited healthcare.gov to learn how they might get insurance coverage.

And the Guttmacher Institute released a terrific new video about the importance of Federal Title X Funding for Family Planning services.

Here are five reasons why I believe this new video is very much worth watching all the way through and sharing widely.
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Exposed — The 5 Most Common Lies about Abortion

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 the FPA, 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