Category Archives: Reproductive Rights

It Makes Me Angry.

This piece was written by Liz Hays. Liz has been a member of MFP’s Board of Directors for almost 20 years; she first came to Maine Family Planning as a patient in 1983.

When I pass the anti-abortion picketers outside Maine Family Planning, it makes me very angry.

I have been a family planning counselor helping women to go through the decision process to have an abortion. I have supported close friends through the abortion procedure. I have served on the board of Maine Family Planning, helping to ensure that abortion remains a viable option in Maine.

coupleholdinghandsclinicI know the mixed emotional feelings that can accompany an unexpected pregnancy, and how very difficult it can be to make the decision to have an abortion. I also know the relief and peace of mind a woman feels when she knows she can go to a safe, compassionate, high quality medical facility once the decision is made.

A patient has every right to be at the clinic seeking a legal, medical procedure without being subjected to harassment from people who disagree with her decision.  Anti-abortion protesters are entitled to their personal feelings and opinions on abortion, but are not entitled to make another human being feel guilty and traumatized for making the choice that is best for her and her family. 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

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. 

PAP 40k 2

 

The Other Side of the Picket Line

Last spring, I unexpectedly lost a pregnancy at the end of my first trimester. Seven months later, the week before Christmas, I miscarried again. In addition to the physical and emotional burden of the second loss, I also experienced a significant financial one: after deductibles and co-payments, it cost my single-income family nearly $3,000, including the D&C – known in another context as an abortion.

After discovering I was pregnant again in February, I scarcely had time to develop a response before it became clear that it wasn’t going to be a viable pregnancy. This time, my first call wasn’t to my midwife – it was to Maine Family Planning.

Some miscarriages resolve naturally, but others require medical intervention, and that, I had discovered, can come at great expense.

WOMAN-DRIVING

I had no hesitation about calling MFP. As a queer-identified woman in a heterosexual primary relationship, I’ve gratefully accessed affordable and judgement-free services from family planning agencies for many years. I did have one very serious reservation, however: I knew that going to MFP in March would mean driving through the gauntlet of 40 Days of Life, the annual anti-choice demonstration outside their gates. And I had to think hard about whether I could face a third devastating loss, this time more affordably, but accompanied by public shaming from an assembly of my Maine neighbors.

People accessing abortion care may be feeling grief, like me. They may be feeling fear, or regret, or relief – like me. No one seeks these services without some mix of these emotions, and likely many more, but few people drive through without a deep feeling that it is what they must do. And not one of us deserves to have the emotions surrounding that experience compounded by the uncompassionate judgement of strangers. Continue reading