Category Archives: Legislative Advocacy

A Pocket Full of Progress: Reproductive Justice Moves Forward in Maine

Despite the daily drama of the 2015 legislative session, the Maine legislature was able to enact a number of new laws that will make a big difference in Mainers’ ability to access reproductive care and to raise families in safe, healthy communities. Many of these laws survived because of the strangest development of the legislative session: 71 bills passed with bipartisan support were spared from the threat of veto because the Governor failed to act within the 10-day window allowed by the Maine Constitution.

Of course, this story isn’t over– the Governor believes that he can still veto these bills, and has requested the Maine Supreme Court to issue an opinion on the matter. We can’t predict what will happen, but we’re encouraged by the number of experts who agree that these bills are now laws.

We’ll be following these events closely, and we’ll keep you updated on developments and what they’ll mean for policy and practice in Maine. In the meantime, it’s worth discussing what a few of these new laws will mean for reproductive justice in our state.  Continue reading

Attacks on Abortion Rights Come to Maine. Are You Ready to Fight Back?

We’ve all seen state legislatures across the country fielding unreasonable attacks on the right to abortion and attempts to limit access to abortion. Well, now it’s our turn. Next week, Maine’s legislature will begin its review of two bills that would limit access to abortion services:  Continue reading

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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Maine: Open For Business… For Everyone.

IMG_1640Perhaps you’ve been hearing about laws in Indiana and Arkansas (among other states) that would allow individuals and businesses to discriminate against people—particularly, women and LGBTQ people—and to justify that discrimination as an exercise of religious freedom. These are called Restoration of Religious Freedom Act (RFRA) laws, and Maine is one of several states considering a RFRA bill this year.

Freedom of religion is a fundamental right, protected by the Maine Constitution and the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. But unlike our existing religious freedom protections, this bill puts an individual’s beliefs ahead of the common good of all Mainers.

The federal RFRA law was the one that allowed Hobby Lobby to pick and choose which birth control methods their employee’s health insurance will cover. In many states, RFRA laws have already fostered lawsuits and discrimination (which seems to be disproportionately impacting women and LGBTQ people):

  • In Texas, a public bus driver refused to drive a passenger to Planned Parenthood, citing his religious beliefs.*
  • In Florida, an employer who believed pregnancy outside of marriage is a sin fired an unmarried pregnant employee.**
  • In Georgia, a student enrolled in a university counseling program claimed that she had the religiously based right to defy professional standards and condemn gay clients.***

Maine already has strong protections for religious freedom, and there is no evidence that they are not working.  Continue reading

It’s Time: We Need You to Show Up for Reproductive Rights.

Have you been feeling frustrated by the way our political system is attacking access to reproductive health care? Still mad about the Hobby Lobby decision? Still smarting about the election?

Want to do something about it?

Maine Family Planning has been working for five years to make Medicaid-funded family planning services available to low-income Mainers who are uninsured, but who would become eligible for Medicaid-funded care if they become pregnant. Low income women are more than five times more likely to experience unintended pregnancies than women with higher incomes, primarily because they don’t have access to high-quality contraceptive care.

Uninsured Mainers with low incomes who become pregnant are eligible for pregnancy-related health care covered by Medicaid, but we don’t provide these same people with the tools to avoid unintended pregnancy. The result of this policy decision is low-income Mainers facing pregnancies they may not be prepared for, and a state Medicaid program that pays for lots of unintended pregnancies. By helping people plan their pregnancies, we can give them more opportunity for education and economic security, support healthy, prosperous families, and save millions of taxpayer dollars.

This is a bill we should all support, right?  We need your help explaining this to Maine’s legislature.

Continue reading

Here’s Lookin’ At You, 2014.

For many people, the New Year is a time to take stock of the past year: a time to measure how far we’ve come, to learn from the challenges we’ve faced, and to make resolutions for the year ahead. 2014 was a pretty eventful year for Maine Family Planning specifically and for reproductive rights generally. So before the ball drops, let’s toast to a year of showing up for reproductive rights and sexual health—and resolve to continue working towards reproductive justice for all.  Continue reading

Reproductive Justice in Maine: Moving Our Communities Forward

MonicaLast week, Monica Simpson came to Maine to speak to staff, community partners, and supporters of Maine Family Planning. Simpson is the Executive Director of SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, a network of over 80 organizations representing women and communities of color. These organizations have been working to shift the conversation around choice and access by fostering discussion about the ways in which people’s identities, communities, and government intersect to influence women’s ability to make decisions about their own bodies and families. Twenty years ago, they named this framework Reproductive Justice.

Reproductive Justice (RJ) recognizes that the right to have or not have children and the right to parent in safe and healthy environments are human rights–and demands that governments and society ensure that legal, family, and community conditions support these decisions. People need to be able to make these choices and access services safely and affordably–otherwise, they aren’t real choices.

We find enormous value in the Reproductive Justice framework, and we were inspired and invigorated by Monica’s visit.

In many ways, we are working to address some of the primary tenets of Reproductive JusticeContinue reading

TODAY IS NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION DAY!

Are you registered to vote in November’s election? Here’s why it’s important and here’s what you need to know about registering and voting.

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Six weeks from today, on November 4th, Maine voters will elect a Governor, a U.S. Senator, two members of Congress, 35 State Senators, and 151 State Representatives. Every voter will have the opportunity to cast their vote for Governor, U.S. Senator, one member of Congress, one State Senator and one State Representative. Think this election’s not important because you’re not voting for President? Here are some reasons your vote matters this year: Continue reading

Supreme Court Rules on Birth Control Coverage Case

Supreme Court Rules on Birth ControlOn 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:

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Introducing: The Buzz!

Are you a pro-choice Mainer who is passionate about sexual health and reproductive rights?

Do you like to write, share on social media, and connect with the people around issues that matter to you?

Do you want to help others connect to the services and information they need?

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We hear from folks all the time, asking how they can help, whether they can volunteer, and offering to support Maine Family Planning in all kinds of ways. We’ve been SO IMPRESSED by and so grateful for the work that our supporters have done. We wanted to find a way to help mobilize, support, and thank those folks working to spread the word about sexual health and reproductive rights in Maine– no matter WHERE they live. Make your voice heard by joining The Buzz, Maine Family Planning’s statewide network of advocates who are committed to spreading the word about sexual health and reproductive rights!

Enter: THE BUZZ.   Continue reading