Category Archives: Family Planning Association of Maine

Where Do Teens Go For Answers?

When teens have questions about sexual health issues, where do they go for answers?

Some may turn to parents or other trusted adults in their lives.

Others will ask their friends or youngish relatives, like that cousin who’s a couple of years older.

Most rely on the internet, using Google and YouTube to search for the information they want.

Luckily for Maine teens, the FPA — with lots of input from Maine teens and young adults — has created a new online resource.

Maineteenhealth.org has useful information about birth control and STD’s. And it has links to resources about LGBTQ health, relationships, mental health, and substance abuse.

And, it’s got two ways for young people to submit their own anonymous questions – directly through the website or using a new text-messaging service.

Check it out and share it with teens you know who may have sexual health questions.

If you’re a teacher or school nurse who wants some FREE posters promoting the new website & texting service for your school, contact askmth@fpam.org with the words ‘mth poster order’ in the subject line.

If you’d rather print your own poster, click here for a PDF file.

~ Nancy

“Legitimate Rape” — The Real Agenda

By now, you’ve probably heard the astonishing comments about rape and abortion made by Congressman Todd Akin (R-Missouri).

Akin, a long-time opponent of abortion rights, is running for the U.S. Senate in Missouri.  When asked on local TV about whether he thinks women who have been raped should be able to access abortion, Akin said, “It seems to me, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.

That’s right. According to Representative Akin, a woman’s body can tell the difference between sperm from a rapist and sperm from consensual sex, and can “shut that whole thing down.”  Which means, of course, if a woman says she became pregnant as a result of rape, she must be lying. And if you’re trying to outlaw abortion, there’s no need to provide for an exception for rape survivors, because survivors of “legitimate rape” don’t get pregnant.

Politicians of all persuasions have expressed outrage at Akin’s statements. And they’re right. This is outrageous.

But here’s what’s really troubling — Akin didn’t just make this stuff up on his own.  When you look at what’s happened in Congress over the past two years, you’ll see that Todd Akin isn’t the renegade crackpot his party is making him out to be, he’s in the mainstream of the conservative majority in Congress. Continue reading

By Any Other Name — Redefining Rape

Earlier this month, the FBI made big news when it announced that the Uniform Crime Report’s (UCR) definition of rape will be revised to provide more comprehensive statistical reporting of rape in the United States.

The change has been a long time coming. The Women’s Law Project has been working with women’s rights groups around the country for 10 years to get the definition of rape changed.

Why is this change such an important development?
Continue reading

Unplanned Pregnancy & Domestic Violence: Exploring the Connection

With each passing month I work at the FPA, I gain new knowledge of and insights into the lives of women and teen girls. My learning for this month is related to the issues of domestic violence and sexual assault. I am not a stranger to these two facts of life. In my previous work experience, I had many opportunities to work closely with the people and agencies dealing directly with women impacted by both.

I recently met with FPA staff member Kini Tinkham who serves as Program Director of Project Connect. And, as often happens, I learned way more than I expected to.

Project Connect is an FPA-led collaboration of providers and advocates from domestic violence and sexual assault organizations, family planning and school-based health centers, and minority organizations. Now in its third year, Project Connect continues to focus on the goal of creating a coordinated community response to domestic violence and sexual assault, including reproductive coercion.

Here’s where my learning curve banked steeply upward. Reproductive coercion? I knew what the words meant but I didn’t have a full understanding of the scope of the problem and its impact on women’s health. This seemed like a topic worth sharing with our readers. I hope you agree. Continue reading

It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month — What’s Your Prevention Strategy?

Last year I reached a major life marker in the form of my 50th birthday. Now – a full year into my fifties – I’m noticing bodily changes and limitations I didn’t have in my thirties and forties. And, reaching the age of fifty made me really and truly face the fact that I’m not going to live forever… who knew?!

And here’s a fact I now have to face — for the average woman living in the U.S. the odds of getting breast cancer increase significantly once she enters her fifties. It’s not something I dwell on but when Breast Cancer Awareness Month rolls around, I pay more attention to prevention messages than I did as a younger woman.

I’ve been reading the American Cancer Society website and I thought I’d pass some information along to our readers. Keep in mind that this isn’t a substitute for medical advice from a licensed practitioner. I’m just sharing some information in hopes that it helps you stay healthy. Continue reading

Top 10 Reasons Why Evidence-Based Pregnancy Prevention is Better than Abstinence-Only Education

After writing last week’s blog post about Sarah, my new teen pregnancy prevention hero, I realized that our readers might not be familiar with the term “evidence-based” as it relates to sexuality education.

I thought I’d write an explanation. But when I found myself mired deeper and deeper in more and more complex terminology, I started to worry.

How could I possibly explain this stuff without putting my readers to sleep?

Then the proverbial light bulb came on and I decided to put together a Top Ten List, a la David Letterman, comparing comprehensive, evidence-based pregnancy prevention programming with abstinence-only-until-marriage education.  So, here goes… Continue reading

Meet Sarah — My Teen Pregnancy Prevention Hero

Last week, I got to spend some time with Sarah Donlin. You probably don’t know Sarah, so let me tell you about her.

Sarah is the Program Coordinator for the Young Parent Program(YPP) of Youth Alternatives Ingraham. Known locally as 22 Park Avenue, YPP is a transitional living program for pregnant and parenting teens and young adults. Sarah’s office overlooks the entryway of the YPP building on the busy corner of Park Avenue and High Street in downtown Portland.  Sarah has the daunting task of providing support, supervision and programming for YPP residents and it’s clear, as she talks, that she cares deeply about them.

Sex ed has always been an essential program component of YPP.  For years, it was done by outside organizations, until budget cuts meant those organizations could no longer come to 22 Park Avenue to provide the services.

Sarah then found herself trying to offer education that she didn’t really feel qualified to provide. She remembers thinking, “I’m not trained in this. I could talk about using condoms but I didn’t know enough about all the birth control methods and I didn’t want to give them misinformation.”

But Sarah was determined to find a way. After some searching, Sarah connected with the FPA’s Teen Pregnancy Program and she now has the knowledge and skills needed to provide sex ed for 22 Park Avenue residents.  Here’s how it happened. Continue reading

Busy Week = A Sampling of Videos For You

It’s been a busy week here at the FPA and what with the Labor Day holiday on top of the general busy-ness, I wasn’t able to write a full-blown blog post.

Luckily, there are a couple of excellent videos I’ve been wanting to share and they’re just a click away.

I promise I’ll be back with a real blog post next week, but in the meantime here are a couple of videos for you.

Enjoy! Continue reading

Tackling Teen Pregnancy in Rockland Maine

Author’s Note: From time to time, On the Front Lines features an FPA program. This week — the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative in Rockland.

Like many Maine communities, Rockland has a teen pregnancy rate higher than the state average. However, while several towns have seen their teen pregnancy rates decrease sharply in the past decade, Rockland is one of the few towns whose rate has remained consistently high — at more than double the state average.

Enter Keegan Ross.

A recent graduate of Rockland District High School, Keegan is a natural leader — he served as Senior Class President and Student Senate Treasurer. Even as a busy senior, Keegan still felt a need to take on another role — to increase awareness about his hometown’s high teen pregnancy rate.

Together with the Student Senate and School Nurse, Ilmi Carter, Keegan organized and spearheaded a week-long project to bring teen pregnancy prevention awareness and education to his fellow students.The awareness week included lunchtime education sessions, an after-school screening of the movie Juno followed by a discussion about teen pregnancy, and a student survey.

Over 300 students completed the survey and the results are really interesting. Sixty-six percent of students say they feel comfortable talking with their parents about sexual health issues. And 77% of students say there is a need for family planning services at their school.

Keegan’s project at Rockland District High School is just one part of a much bigger story. Continue reading