Category Archives: Teen Sexuality

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

Youth Leaders: Create Positive Change in Your Community!

myanMaine Family Planning believes that young people deserve accurate, non-judgmental information about reproductive health, sexuality, and their own bodies. That’s why it’s so important that our clinics offer confidential, affordable services to teens, and that MaineTeenHealth.org and AskMTH (our anonymous, free Q&A service) offer accurate, non-judgmental information. We really enjoy working with young people, and we’ve seen the difference that they can make in their communities, schools, and in the state of Maine. 

This month’s Community Spotlight highlights the Maine Youth Action Network (MYAN)’s Annual Youth Leadership Summit, where young people (and adults who work with them) can gain the skills and knowledge they’ll need to create healthier communities. MYAN’s mission is to partner with youth to create change in their communities; this week, we talked with them about the summit so that we could pass this opportunity along to the teens and adults who are engaged in the work of Maine Family Planning.

What is the Maine Youth Leadership Summit?   Continue reading

Meet Pam ~ A Maine Family Planning Staff Profile

pam jandreau-3For thirty years, Pam Jandreau has been doing family planning work in Aroostook County. That’s right… thirty years!

Earlier this week, Pam and I talked about her family planning work experience, among other things.

How did you start working in family planning? I was taking some college classes and volunteering for the sexual assault hotline. This job came up and I applied and I fell into it. It was a great job right from the start.

What kind of work did you do before coming to family planning? In my twenties, I worked as a nurse’s aide in a nursing home. I totally enjoyed that. Then I lived in Portland for a while and worked at the Executive Inn on Congress Street. I enjoyed that too. I just love working with people.

How is working in family planning different from other health care work you’ve done?  Continue reading

Teen Dating Violence Awareness: A Community Spotlight Conversation

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness month, and we are dedicating this month’s Community Spotlight post to this very important topic. To learn more about Teen Dating Violence and how we can all support the young people in our lives, we talked with some of our partners at the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence, Safe Voices, and Spruce Run. Continue reading

Pizza and Choice: It’s What’s for Dinner

Between all these Blurred Lines and a rape case where a teacher who admits to raping his (now dead by suicide) student gets sentenced to only 30 days in prison, it’s hard to imagine there are open and positive conversations happening about sex.

But they are happening! And really, they have to.

Al Vernacchio, a 12th grade high school teacher, gives us a new way to talk about sex and sexuality education that is smart, accessible, funny, and….well, delicious. Continue reading

Abortion in Maine — Protecting Access to a Safe, Legal Procedure

This week, we feature testimony given at a Judiciary Committee hearing regarding LD 1339 and LD 760 – bills that would restrict access to abortion in Maine.

These bills will come up for a vote this week, please call your legislators and ask them to reject any further restrictions to abortion services.

My name is Ruth Lockhart and I am Executive Director and Co-Founder of Mabel Wadsworth Women’s Health Center in Bangor. We are one of only three public centers where a woman seeking an abortion in Maine can go.

I’m going to share with you how abortion care works at Mabel Wadsworth Center to dispel any myths or misconceptions about how are abortions are provided for women in Aroostook, Hancock, Penobscot, Piscataquis, Waldo and Washington counties. 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

The Local Scene ~ Teen Pregnancy Prevention in Maine Schools

Kathy Kerr, Teacher at Mount Blue Middle School, Farmington

So far during Teen Pregnancy Prevention month, we have taken a global, national and statewide look at teen pregnancy.  Now we’re narrowing our focus even more — to the classroom level — to see what some Maine teachers and schools are doing.

FPA’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program works with schools and community organizations dedicated to providing youth with comprehensive sexuality education.  Our program’s main goal is to strengthen the capacity of Maine educators and schools as they provide sexuality education programs that deliver positive results.

We promote the use of evidence-based programs because they’ve been proven to change sexual behaviors among youth, like: Continue reading

Teen Pregnancy — How Does the U.S. Measure Up?

Last week, as we began our celebration of Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month, I noted that the U.S. has experienced dramatic decreases in teen pregnancy rates over the past decades. While this is an excellent trend, our teens still lag far behind their peers in other countries.

Take a look for yourself: the U.S. has much higher teen birth rates than other western,
industrialized countries and it doesn’t stop there– teen pregnancy and abortion rates are also much higher in the U.S.

On average, U.S. teens initiate sexual activity around the same age and are no more sexuality active than teens in other countries.

So, what are we, in the U.S. doing wrong?

Or to put a more positive spin on the question, what are other countries doing right? Continue reading