Category Archives: Parenting

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. 

PAP 40k 2

 

On Our Radar: (Another) Parental Consent Bill in Maine

During the upcoming 2015 legislative session, the Maine Legislature will consider LD 83, a bill that would require minors (under 18) and adults under guardianship to get the written consent of a parent or legal guardian in order to obtain an abortion. If this feels like a  rerun, that’s because it is–legislators defeated a version of the bill in 2013 and 2011, in part because it’s so out of touch with the way real Maine families work.

Maine already has an adult involvement law, and it works. For over 25 years, Maine’s adult involvement law has encouraged family involvement in a teen’s decision to seek abortion, while providing young people with the guidance and support necessary to evaluate all of the options available. The current law is a bipartisan success story–the result of a compromise between republicans and democrats, backed by organizations that support abortion rights and those that oppose them. Our state’s adult involvement law stands as a national model because it works– it truly protects and respects the health, safety, and dignity of young people.  Continue reading

Women Considering Adoption Deserve a Thoughtful Look at Their Choices

This piece, by Kate Brogan, our VP of Public Policy, originally ran in the Portland Press Herald, as a “Maine Voices” column.

As I go to work at Maine Family Planning, I am forced to pass by protesters and their signs. One sign in particular always catches my eye: “Adoption is a Loving Option.” This one echoes the theme of this year’s national March for Life, “Adoption: A Noble Decision.”

Women considering abortion are urged by anti-choice protesters to continue their pregnancies so their children may be adopted because “hundreds of thousands are waiting in line for adoption – caring men and women who long to be called by the precious words ‘Mommy’ and ‘Daddy,’ ” to quote U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler of Missouri, speaking at the 2014 March for Life in Washington, D.C.

This view of adoption is simplistic, unrealistic and value-laden. Continue reading

Beyond “The Talk” ~ Preventing Teen Pregnancy

In last week’s blog post highlighting Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month, we described what the FPA is doing to support Maine educators and students. As the month of May comes to a close, we want to give you – trusted adults, teachers, parents and concerned community members – ideas about how you can help prevent teen pregnancy.

Maybe you’re wondering, “Me?! What can I do?”

Well, there are two words that can start you on your way – listen and talk. Continue reading

Abortion and Motherhood — The Real, True Story

“There aren’t ‘women who have abortions’ and ‘women who have babies’.
Those are the same women at different points in their lives.”
~ Rachel Atkins, PA, MPH

I love this quote. It’s such a great reminder of the vast distance between the truth about abortion in the U.S. and the lies spread by the anti-choice movement.

The anti’s describe women who have abortions as selfish monsters who care only about themselves and their own lives. How are we to reconcile this hatefulness with the fact that 61% of women who have abortions in the U.S. already have at least one child. That’s right – mothers sometimes make the decision to have an abortion. Continue reading

Don’t Have Sex — Because You Will Get Pregnant & Die

Coach teaches a sex ed class in the movie "Mean Girls"

Last week, we talked about the high teen pregnancy and STD infection rates in the U.S. compared to other developed countries. It turns out that differing societal attitudes towards teen sexuality is the biggest factor accounting for the huge gap. European parents and other adults are much more accepting of teen sexuality and teens consider it the norm to take precautions when engaging in sexual activity.

Quite different from the “sex is bad” approach so common in this country.

Aside from changing our entire country’s cultural norms around sexuality, what can we do to reduce teen pregnancy and STD infection rates? Continue reading

What About the Boys?

Continuing our focus on National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month, this week’s post is written by one of FPA’s Pregnancy Prevention Coordinators.

I’ll never forget it. Standing in front of a hundred or so eighth-grade boys, I asked them where they got their information about sex and staying healthy.  After an uncomfortable silence, one brave soul shrugged and said “Mostly…from the streets.”

The ‘streets’ he was referring to are lined with oak trees and sidewalks.  But, I knew what he meant. I had been asked to speak to that group of boys because the principal discovered an underground condom ring going on within the school.  Yep, that’s right.  Some entrepreneurial boy realized he could make good money selling condoms to his classmates.  The same condoms, mind you, that can be legally obtained in about ten different stores in their town.  This makes you wonder…

When I asked them if they had these conversations with an adult at home, they slowly shook their heads.  A few gave me a patronizing smile with that “You’re outta your mind, lady.” look.  I have posed this question to students before, so I wasn’t surprised by their reaction.  But, something about that particular instance has always stuck with me.  Continue reading

What are You Doing for the ‘Jessie’ in Your Life?

May is National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month.

Here at the FPA, every day is devoted to the prevention of teen and unplanned pregnancy. Our clinical staff, prevention staff, legislative advocacy staff, and the administrative staff that keep the business side of things going are all committed to helping women and men plan their families and avoid unwanted pregnancy.

But what about all the folks who aren’t doing teen pregnancy prevention work as part of their day job — is there anything the average person can do?

By way of answering that question, I’d like to tell you about Jessie.

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