Category Archives: Women’s Health

Reproductive Justice in Maine: Moving Our Communities Forward

MonicaLast 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 JusticeContinue reading

Boundaries: Get Clear!

Here’s the scenario: you’re on a date with someone new, and it feels like the two of you will be headed towards the bedroom soon. Once you’re in the heat of the moment, neither of you have protection (you haven’t visited a Maine Family Planning clinic in a while). You’re conflicted. But you make the decision to follow through with it because your new crush doesn’t seem worried about not practicing safe sex. The next morning, you wake up wishing you had listened to that nagging voice in your head–you wish you had made a different decision and now you’re feeling badly about ignoring your instincts.

writing in bed

Have you ever been here? So many of us have. Often times, we ignore our instincts and gut-feelings because our boundaries–our ‘yeses’ and ‘nos’– weren’t particularly clear to ourselves in the first place. Boundaries are nuanced; they change all of the time–depending on our mood, our current feelings, and the situation.   Continue reading

TODAY IS NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION DAY!

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.

register-to-vote

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

Supreme Court Rules on Birth Control Coverage Case

Supreme Court Rules on Birth ControlOn 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:

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

Earth Day, Wildlife Protection, and Family Planning ~ What’s the Connection?

Safe Intercourse Saves Seahorse

Earlier this week, Earth Day celebrations were held in many U.S. cities and around the world. Started in 1970 to raise awareness of the impact human activity was having on the planet, Earth Day is considered the birth of the modern environmental movement.

Here in the U.S. we have a keen responsibility to consider the impact of humans on the environment, because we use much more than our share of the world’s resources. It’s great that so many Americans have become more aware of environmental issues, but we’ll only get so far by reducing, reusing, and recycling. We need to start talking about population growth and its impact on planet Earth.

Since the first Earth Day, 44 years ago, the world’s population has increased by 95% ~ yup, you read that right. In 44 years, the earth’s population went from 3.7 to 7.2 billion. And the folks who study such things, tell us that we can expect to add another 2 billion people to our world by the year 2050. Continue reading

“I Was Too Embarassed to Tell Anyone” ~ A Story of Reproductive Coercion

Maine Family Planning is committed to healthy sexuality for all people and works closely with domestic violence agencies to help prevent abuse and coercion. This piece was written by a Maine woman who hopes that her story will help other survivors of abuse and the people who support them.

*TRIGGER WARNING*: This post deals with a personal account of relationship abuse and may be triggering to some people.

woman at windowI never thought I would share this story outside a couple very close friends or family, but a perfect storm of events made me feel compelled to get it all out. During the week that would have been my daughter’s second birthday, we threw a baby shower for my sister, and a friend posted an article she wrote about reproductive coercion. I told her what it meant to me, and she encouraged me to share my story with others. Continue reading

Increasing Medicaid Coverage for Women is Good for Families

The following piece ran in the Lewiston Sun Journal on Sunday. We share it here for anyone who may have missed it.

At a rally in January, Gov. Paul LePage stated that outlawing abortion is the solution to Maine’s declining population. Apparently, he believes that forcing women to have children they are not prepared to parent is key to a prosperous future.

This is an interesting approach, considering the many ways LePage has made it harder for low-income women to get the help they may need to raise their children – ending Medicaid eligibility for more than 14,000 low-income parents, setting time limits for TANF, cutting General Assistance funding, and vetoing an increase in the minimum wage.

Gov. LePage’s policies have made this state a much more difficult place for poor women to raise their children.

When women are forced to have children they are not emotionally or financially prepared to raise, the negative effects multiply through the years, both for families and for Maine. Poverty, hunger and the resultant unhealthy family settings have lifelong repercussions for a child’s health and his or her ability to learn and thrive. Families who have children resulting from unintended pregnancy are far more likely to rely on Medicaid and other social supports, at great cost to our taxpayers.

Most Mainers agree that it is best for everyone when babies are born into healthy, stable families that are ready and able to give them what they need. How do we do this? Continue reading

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends ~ The Value of Community Partners

You may already know that Maine’s family planning providers are experts in sexual and reproductive health. Yet, you may be surprised to find out we do so much more than birth control and pap tests.

  • We provide testing and treatment for STDs, breast and cervical exams for women of all ages, and preconception services for those planning to get pregnant.
  • You can come to us with urgent issues, like urinary tract infections, yeast infections, emergency contraception, or if you just need to grab some condoms before the weekend.
  • We see patients of any gender, any age – and everything we do is confidential and     affordable.
  • At our Belfast location, we offer primary care services.
  • In Downeast Maine, the FPA provides additional family support services.

While family planning services are pretty broad in scope, we can’t always provide every service our patients need. That’s why we partner with other organizations and providers in local communities. Continue reading

Meet Leanne ~ A Family Planning Staff Profile

Leanne Clark, Site Administrative Coordinator, Waterville and Skowhegan Family Planning

If you call the family planning health centers in Waterville and Skowhegan, Leanne Clark is probably the voice you’ll hear on the phone. As Site Administrative Coordinator for these two FPA locations, Leanne is usually the first person to make contact with patients who call or come through the door.

I had lunch with Leanne at a nearby Waterville restaurant and we chatted about her family planning work. Here’s what we talked about.

You’ve been employed by family planning for just over 10 years. How did you get into this work?

I was graduating from Thomas College with my associates degree and moving out of my parents’ house. I needed a job, quick. I heard about this job at KVCAP Family Planning and I applied.  I never intended to stay with family planning so long; this was the job I was supposed to have until I got my real job.

Why did that change? Continue reading