Category Archives: Family Planning

New Year’s Resolutions? Trying Something Different

Warning: My inner dork is revealed at the end of this post.

In years past, I’ve tended to establish new year’s resolutions with three basic themes:

  • Eat Healthier
  • Exercise More
  • Be Nicer

Like many people I know, my inner struggles don’t seem to change that much from year to year. Unless we’ve had a major, life-changing experience we tend to keep battling our well-known demons.

This year, I’ve decided to try something new — something that boils down to “find the positive” and “be part of the solution.”

What does this have to do with family planning and reproductive rights? Funny you should ask. Continue reading

Raindrops on Roses, Whiskers on Kittens

These are a few of my favorites blogs…

Writing a weekly blog takes commitment and guts in equal parts. You have to spend two or three times as much time reading and researching as you do writing. And you’ve got to believe you have something worth writing about, something people  want to read.

Writing On the Front Lines for the FPA is a piece of cake in terms of having plenty of interesting material. The work of providing reproductive health care and protecting reproductive rights in Maine is multi-layered and varied. Basically, it’s fabulous material for a writer.

Staying on top of the necessary reading and research — now, that’s another story. I’ll be the first to admit that some weeks it’s quite the challenge.

Luckily, there are some amazing people writing about reproductive rights and reproductive health care. I depend on my fellow bloggers for ideas and inspiration.

As my holiday gift to you, I’m sharing a sampling of my favorite blogs.  Enjoy! Continue reading

Family Planning: Celebrating History & Committing to the Future

Author Jean Baker, signs copies of her new book about Margaret Sanger

Last Wednesday, November 9th, about 100 people gathered at the Harraseeket Inn in Freeport to hear author and historian, Jean Baker, talk about her new book, Margaret Sanger: A Life of Passion.

Dr. Baker teaches history at Goucher College and has written several books on various topics in American history. Her lecture was enlightening and inspiring. Baker talked about Margaret Sanger as a person who was committed to improving the lives of women and their families, a woman who was a product of her times and who could be difficult, but who nevertheless gave her life to the effort to assure that every woman was, in Sanger’s own words, “the absolute mistress of her own body.”

In talking with Dr. Baker at the start of the evening, I was impressed by how interested she was in what’s happening with family planning in Maine. She asked as many or more questions than she answered. But Dr. Baker and her lecture are just a part of what made the evening so special to me.

Continue reading

7 Billion… and Counting

October 31, 2011 — That’s the day United Nations demographers determined that planet Earth is now host to seven billion people.  The number is significant for lots of reasons — the rapidity with which we reached this number, the concerns about food and energy and water and all of the resources needed to sustain such a large number of people on a very finite planet.

I wanted to write something about this topic for On the Front Lines, to talk about the link between population growth and access to family planning services.  So I did some reading on the subject. 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

Paying for Birth Control — What’s Your Story?

Have you heard the good news? Beginning August 1, 2012, the full range of birth control methods will be available to tens of millions of U.S. women with no co-pays or deductibles.

How wonderful is that?!

Along with several other preventive services for women, the new guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services require health insurance plans to cover contraception and contraceptive counseling. This marks true progress — viewing birth control as preventive health care and making sure women have access to services that impact their health and the health of their families.

This is good news.

But what’s even better is that Maine happens to be more than a decade ahead of Washington, D.C. on this one. In 1999, the Maine Legislature passed what is known as an Equity in Prescription Insurance and Contraception Coverage (EPICC) law. This law basically says that any insurance company doing business in Maine, that offers a prescription benefit, has to include contraception coverage.

Go Maine!

This is all terrific news for women with health insurance coverage. But what about the millions of women and teens who don’t have any form of health insurance?  Women like Rachel Fey, who wrote about it in this  Pregnant Pause blog post.

Rachel’s story is not unique Continue reading

When Parents and Teens Can’t Talk About Sex

After reading last week’s post of On the Front Lines, a colleague asked me a couple of really good, pointed questions.

Wasn’t I putting a lot of pressure on parents — telling them they had to get comfortable talking about sex with their teens? What about those times when parents and teens just can’t talk about sexuality, for whatever reason?

He raised such good points, I decided they were worthy of further discussion. Continue reading

Being Social — Conversations about Family Planning

A big part of what I love about my job is the variety of conversations I have with Family Planning Association of Maine allies and donors, clients and other staff members.  I get to write about family planning, from an insider perspective, and you get to write back — sharing your opinions, experiences, and ideas. How wonderful is that?

Whether you’re responding to a Facebook status update, commenting on a blog post, or replying to an email message — so many of you have insightful things to say about the FPA and the value of family planning services. Continue reading

Summertime, Unemployment & Teen Pregnancy

Ah, summertime!  After a cold, snowy winter and a cool, rainy spring, we’re finally enjoying warm, sunshine-y days. I remember the summers of my childhood in Lewiston — riding my bicycle with friends, paddling around in the city pool, eating Popsicles — trying to keep cool in the brick and concrete heat of my downtown neighborhood.

Fast forward a few years to when I was a boy-crazy, rock-music-loving, hormone-driven teenager.  During my teens, summertime meant working extra hours at my job as a waitress in the local department store dinette. Gosh, even the word ‘dinette’ conjures up a simpler time when twenty-five cents bought you a cup of coffee and summer jobs for teens were plentiful.

Fast forward again, 35 years to the summer of 2011, and the outlook for teen employment is bleak.  Across the United States, teens seeking entry-level jobs are competing with older Americans who suffered financial losses during the recession and have had to supplement their income. Experts are predicting that only 25% of teens will find employment this summer, down from 45% in 2000.

What, you might ask, do teen unemployment rates have to do with  teen pregnancies? Well, if only one out of every four teens will have jobs this summer, I have to wonder — what will the other three out of four teens be doing? Continue reading