Perhaps 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
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.
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
Last 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 Justice. Continue reading
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.
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
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:
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?
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
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.