On 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:
For thirty years, Pam Jandreau has been doing family planning work in Aroostook County. That’s right… thirty years!
Earlier this week, Pam and I talked about her family planning work experience, among other things.
How did you start working in family planning? I was taking some college classes and volunteering for the sexual assault hotline. This job came up and I applied and I fell into it. It was a great job right from the start.
What kind of work did you do before coming to family planning? In my twenties, I worked as a nurse’s aide in a nursing home. I totally enjoyed that. Then I lived in Portland for a while and worked at the Executive Inn on Congress Street. I enjoyed that too. I just love working with people.
How is working in family planning different from other health care work you’ve done? Continue reading
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Visit Healthcare.gov for answers
On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) into law. The law creates major changes in how health insurance coverage works in the U.S. and who has access to insurance coverage.
The law is complex and has many different components that are being rolled out over the course of four years… and beyond.
Here at the FPA, we’re working to stay up-to-date and to fully understand the ACA so we can pass that information along to our patients, friends and supporters.
Like these important changes for women: Continue reading