Category Archives: Family Planning

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

Family Planning in Maine Has a New Look!

The Family Planning Association of Maine is thrilled to announce the launch of our new website, logo and name ~ Maine Family Planning!

We’ve made many changes over the last few years, as we’ve taken on direct management of several family planning health centers and are now operating 18 clinics in 12 counties! We’ve also opened a primary care practice at our Belfast location, and in Downeast Maine, we’re providing families with additional support.

Our new name, Maine Family Planning, better reflects our ongoing efforts to provide innovative, high-quality services amidst a changing healthcare environment. We’re no longer simply an association that oversees the work of other agencies, but a leaner, more responsive organization dedicated to the sexual health and reproductive rights of all Mainers.

Our website has been updated with a fresh look and user-friendly navigation to better connect visitors with the information they are seeking. The site is designed to work seamlessly on mobile phones and tablets ~ so users can find the services and information they need, wherever they happen to be.

We hope our new site will be a helpful resource for you. Here’s what you’ll find:

  • Find a Clinic: Finding a family planning health center is easier than ever.
  • Get Involved: Stay informed by signing up for our Action Alerts.
  • The Buzz: Our exciting new program helps pro-choice Mainers make their voices heard through social media and other online forums.
  • On The Front Lines: Our blog informs, inspires, and gives readers a chance to take a more in-depth look at sexual health and reproductive rights issues.
  • Looking for something specific? Our new website has sections especially for patientseducatorsparents and familiescommunity partners, and donors.
  • Health Topics: you’ll find information on sexual health, birth control, STDs, abortion services, and more ~ because everyone deserves a local resource they can trust.

After you check out our new website, connect with Maine Family Planning on Twitter and Facebook! We want to be your Maine resource for sexual health and reproductive rights information and support.

Please let us know what you think of our new look and website.

We value your feedback!

Increasing Medicaid Coverage for Women is Good for Families

The following piece ran in the Lewiston Sun Journal on Sunday. We share it here for anyone who may have missed it.

At a rally in January, Gov. Paul LePage stated that outlawing abortion is the solution to Maine’s declining population. Apparently, he believes that forcing women to have children they are not prepared to parent is key to a prosperous future.

This is an interesting approach, considering the many ways LePage has made it harder for low-income women to get the help they may need to raise their children – ending Medicaid eligibility for more than 14,000 low-income parents, setting time limits for TANF, cutting General Assistance funding, and vetoing an increase in the minimum wage.

Gov. LePage’s policies have made this state a much more difficult place for poor women to raise their children.

When women are forced to have children they are not emotionally or financially prepared to raise, the negative effects multiply through the years, both for families and for Maine. Poverty, hunger and the resultant unhealthy family settings have lifelong repercussions for a child’s health and his or her ability to learn and thrive. Families who have children resulting from unintended pregnancy are far more likely to rely on Medicaid and other social supports, at great cost to our taxpayers.

Most Mainers agree that it is best for everyone when babies are born into healthy, stable families that are ready and able to give them what they need. How do we do this? Continue reading

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends ~ The Value of Community Partners

You may already know that Maine’s family planning providers are experts in sexual and reproductive health. Yet, you may be surprised to find out we do so much more than birth control and pap tests.

  • We provide testing and treatment for STDs, breast and cervical exams for women of all ages, and preconception services for those planning to get pregnant.
  • You can come to us with urgent issues, like urinary tract infections, yeast infections, emergency contraception, or if you just need to grab some condoms before the weekend.
  • We see patients of any gender, any age – and everything we do is confidential and     affordable.
  • At our Belfast location, we offer primary care services.
  • In Downeast Maine, the FPA provides additional family support services.

While family planning services are pretty broad in scope, we can’t always provide every service our patients need. That’s why we partner with other organizations and providers in local communities. Continue reading

Meet Leanne ~ A Family Planning Staff Profile

Leanne Clark, Site Administrative Coordinator, Waterville and Skowhegan Family Planning

If you call the family planning health centers in Waterville and Skowhegan, Leanne Clark is probably the voice you’ll hear on the phone. As Site Administrative Coordinator for these two FPA locations, Leanne is usually the first person to make contact with patients who call or come through the door.

I had lunch with Leanne at a nearby Waterville restaurant and we chatted about her family planning work. Here’s what we talked about.

You’ve been employed by family planning for just over 10 years. How did you get into this work?

I was graduating from Thomas College with my associates degree and moving out of my parents’ house. I needed a job, quick. I heard about this job at KVCAP Family Planning and I applied.  I never intended to stay with family planning so long; this was the job I was supposed to have until I got my real job.

Why did that change? 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

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

Don’t Be Scared ~ Emergency Contraception is Here

It’s Halloween! Zombies and vampires can be spooky but few things are as anxiety inducing as a pregnancy scare. But have no fear. Emergency contraception (EC) is now available over the counter to anyone, of any age, without an ID.

Here’s what you need to know about getting EC to help prevent an unplanned pregnancy. Continue reading