Category Archives: Reproductive Justice

Everything You Need To Know About the Most Important Abortion Case in a Generation

If you’re like me, your social media has been filled with posts about Wednesday’s Supreme Court hearing on Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the challenge of a Texas law that has shut down most of Texas’s abortion providers.

The sheer amount of information and analysis can be overwhelming, so instead of adding to the information overload, we thought we’d share some of our favorite links about the case and what it means for abortion rights in Maine and around the country.

Want to get up to speed on what Whole Women’s Health is about and what it could mean?

This video sums it up.

Why do we need to increase safety regulations for abortions? Are abortions risky?

This article from ThinkProgress runs down the facts.

Want to know what’s at stake?

Here’s a story about what it might mean for abortion access in Maine.

And here’s some national context (click for detailed view):

HB2 infographic

So, how did things go during the Supreme Court’s hearing?

Well, the Supreme Court doesn’t allow cameras to record their proceedings (Crazy, huh?), but an audio recording should be released tomorrow. In the meantime, here’s a great summary of the highlights of the oral arguments. (We might be a little biased. Go, RBG!)

Like you, MFP will be looking forward to the Court’s decision on this major abortion case, which will likely be issued in June. Once the decision is issued, we’ll have a lot to say about what it means for Maine and the country.  Check back here for MFP’s perspective!

 ~ Kate Brogan, VP of Public Affairs

A Huge Leap Forward: Expanding Access to Abortion in Maine

Across the United States, reproductive health clinics are struggling to keep their doors open in the face of state-imposed restrictions, provider shortages, and hostile anti-choice environments. Since 2011, 162 clinics have closed, while only 21 new centers have opened.

As of today, things look different in Maine.

Maine Family Planning is increasing access to medication abortion in underserved and rural communities through the use of telemedicine technology. Patients who would otherwise have to drive long distances to access services in Bangor, Augusta, or Portland may now be able to access care at an additional 16 Maine Family Planning centers.

With this expansion, Maine joins Iowa and Minnesota as one of only three states where abortion services are known to be available via telemedicine.** Despite its relative rarity, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has formally recognized that telemedicine “can help to bring this safe, effective method of reproductive care to the women who need it.” This hasn’t stopped 18 states from enacting bans on the use of telemedicine for medication abortion.

The right to abortion is meaningless if you can’t get to the clinic.  Continue reading

Shame free, Blame free, Empowering: notes from our supporters

signs 6It’s one thing to see signs containing lies, displaying graphic images, and conveying messages intended to frighten our patients and staff once a week, but it’s another thing to be berated by it every day. As strong proponents of reproductive healthcare and a woman’s right to make decisions about her life and her body, we have learned to tune out the messages of hate and anger. The problem is that no matter how strong your resolve, no one can tune it out entirely.

provider support 2To counter the picketers’ dishonest, judgmental signs meant to shame our staff and patients, we like to remind ourselves of all the good that comes from the work being done at our health centers. Reading about the experiences of our patients strengthens our resolve to stand strong in the face of opposition. Hearing why our supporters get involved reminds us that we are not facing the hatred of our opponents alone–and neither are our patients.

We’ve asked donors and supporters to tell us why they stand together with Maine Family Planning, and we’ve received some incredibly supportive messages. We think of these when we see the protesters signs and we remember that there is strength in numbers.

Here are some of our favorites: Continue reading

There is Strength in Numbers.

Maine Family Planning’s 2016 Pledge-A-Picketer campaign starts today.

Beginning today and continuing for the next 40 days, patients and staff of Maine Family Planning will have to pass through picketers holding grotesque, judgmental signs whenever they come or go from our Augusta health center. Usually these picketers line our entrance only once a week, but from now until March 24th they will be in front of MFP headquarters every day.

These picketers object to our patients’ right to make decisions about their own bodies, families, and lives, and they oppose the hard work that MFP employees do in order to provide safe, confidential, and expert care.

In spite of these picketers—with their signs designed to shame and frighten our patients and staff—we  continue to keep our clinic doors open. We need your support more than ever during this campaign to show patients and staff that they are valued, to keep our clinics safe, and to help us protect reproductive rights and healthcare in Maine.

Support Maine Family Planning’s work by making a pledge of support for every picketer (for example, 10¢ per picketer we see protesting), or by making a one-time gift to our Pledge-A-Picketer campaign. You can also mail your check to:

Maine Family Planning
Pledge-A-Picketer
PO Box 587
Augusta, ME 04332-0587

Watch for updates by following us on Facebook, Twitter, and checking our blog to see how much we are raising and how many picketers we have seen.

We will be posting our total raised on a large banner for our patients and the picketers to see. It may just be a number on a banner, but it represents the strength it takes for patients to pass picketers just to get healthcare, as well as the strength we have when we stand together to protect access to reproductive healthcare in Maine.

Thank you for your support and for making sure the 2016 Pledge-A-Picketer campaign starts strong.

Stand together with Maine Family Planning by making a pledge based on the number of picketers we count or by making a one-time gift to our Pledge-A-Picketer campaign.

43 Years Later: Reclaiming Roe for All

This piece was written by  Andrea Irwin, George A. Hill and Meagan Gallagher and originally ran in the Bangor Daily News on January 21, 2016. 

We lead three nonprofit, publicly accessible health care providers who provide comprehensive reproductive and sexual health care for men and women across the state. Together, we serve more than 21,500 Mainers per year. More than half of them are low income.

Among the comprehensive pregnancy-related care we provide is abortion. Like the rest of our services, abortion is a safe, legal medical procedure. Unlike the rest of our services, abortion has been singled out by politicians for exclusion from MaineCare coverage. While MaineCare will pay for all pregnancy-related care for women who choose to carry a pregnancy to term, it withholds coverage from eligible women who decide to have an abortion.

That means MaineCare-eligible women who decide abortion is the best thing for them and their families must pay for the procedure out of pocket. As providers, we know firsthand that one of the greatest challenges for women seeking care is financial.  Continue reading

You’re Invited! Join us for Women’s Day at the State House

Maine Women’s Day at the State House is coming up on Thursday, January 21st, and we’d love for you to join us! With the start of the 2016 Legislative Session, it’s important to make sure legislators, press, and allies are paying attention to how policy decisions affect Maine women. Join us to help raise the visibility of Maine women, learn more about policies that will impact our lives during this session, and strengthen your skills to advocate on the issues that matter most to you.

Thursday, January 21, 2016
9:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Maine State House & Cross Office Building, Augusta
Please wear RED!
Register here: http://bit.ly/womensday2016

Need more reasons to join us for Women’s Day at the State House? Here are our top three:  Continue reading

Standing Up for Equal Access to Abortion

In 1977, the Hyde Amendment barred the use of federal funds to pay for most abortions. While states are free to use their own funds to cover abortion, Maine does not. As a result, MaineCare covers pregnancy-related care for women who choose to carry a pregnancy to term, but withholds coverage from eligible women who decide to have an abortion. The result is a significant coverage gap for those insured by MaineCare.

affordable abortion RJ poster

Image courtesy of Repeal Hyde Art Project

Maine Family Planning believes that every person–regardless of income –should be able to make the decisions that are best for their health and their family. That’s why today we joined with the American Civil Liberties Union, Mabel Wadsworth Women’s Health Center, and Planned Parenthood of Northern New England in filing a lawsuit challenging Maine’s prohibition of MaineCare coverage for abortion care. We are proud to take this step toward ensuring fair and equal health care access for all Mainers.

The Legal Landscape in Maine

Although Maine public policy expressly prohibits restricting a woman’s “exercise of her private decision to terminate a pregnancy,” and Maine’s Constitution guarantees that all people have the right to pursue liberty, safety, and equality, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services has been withholding insurance coverage for abortion for decades.

At its core, the prohibition on abortion coverage is discriminatory. Continue reading

#GiveDifferently for #GivingTuesday

Maine Family Planning is getting ready for #GivingTuesday and we need your support!

It’s that time of year again; the weather is getting colder and for many of us in Maine that means breaking out the shovels and snow tires. It also means that the holiday season is approaching quickly. While you may be starting to think about holiday shopping lists and hosting family gatherings, Maine Family Planning is getting ready for #GivingTuesday!

giving tuesdayIn case you haven’t heard, the goal of #GivingTuesday is to create a global day of giving back, celebrating generosity and kindness. The day itself falls on the Tuesday following American Thanksgiving each year. This year #GivingTuesday is on December 1st.

We all know that this time of year can be incredibly hectic so we’ve come up with some ways to #GiveDifferently with Maine Family Planning. Monthly gifts spread your contribution over twelve months, so you don’t spend your holiday bonus all in one place. Giving in someone else’s name makes a great holiday gift, especially for that activist in your life who cares passionately about reproductive rights. There are even ways to contribute while you finish up your holiday shopping with Amazon Smiles and of course, one time gifts make a big difference too!

Continue reading

National Coming Out Day: A chance for safer Maine communities

This week’s guest post was authored by Cara Courchesne, Katie Kondrat, and Rachel Epperly, all of the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault and also appears in the Bangor Daily News

__________________________________________________________________

With the Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality and Caitlyn Jenner’s iconic Vanity Fair cover, issues faced by the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) community dominated headlines this summer.

As we celebrate these victories and the headlines fade, activists continue to rightfully point out the work that remains.

SAFE-SPACE

We know that sexual violence is the most under-reported violent crime in the United States, and that there are often barriers to victims and survivors who want to report to law enforcement and seek services. We also know that the rates at which LGBTQ people experience sexual violence are alarming survivors face even more barriers when seeking help. 

These barriers include: previous homophobic or transphobic experiences with services providers and law enforcement; concern the services available don’t have the expertise to affirm and support someone; a lack of understanding by the victim that what happened was sexual violence; a fear of being outed; service providers making false assumptions about someone’s gender identify or sexual orientation; or worse still, discriminate against someone who has come to them for help.  Continue reading

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