New Year’s Resolutions? Trying Something Different

Warning: My inner dork is revealed at the end of this post.

In years past, I’ve tended to establish new year’s resolutions with three basic themes:

  • Eat Healthier
  • Exercise More
  • Be Nicer

Like many people I know, my inner struggles don’t seem to change that much from year to year. Unless we’ve had a major, life-changing experience we tend to keep battling our well-known demons.

This year, I’ve decided to try something new — something that boils down to “find the positive” and “be part of the solution.”

What does this have to do with family planning and reproductive rights? Funny you should ask. Continue reading

Raindrops on Roses, Whiskers on Kittens

These are a few of my favorites blogs…

Writing a weekly blog takes commitment and guts in equal parts. You have to spend two or three times as much time reading and researching as you do writing. And you’ve got to believe you have something worth writing about, something people  want to read.

Writing On the Front Lines for the FPA is a piece of cake in terms of having plenty of interesting material. The work of providing reproductive health care and protecting reproductive rights in Maine is multi-layered and varied. Basically, it’s fabulous material for a writer.

Staying on top of the necessary reading and research — now, that’s another story. I’ll be the first to admit that some weeks it’s quite the challenge.

Luckily, there are some amazing people writing about reproductive rights and reproductive health care. I depend on my fellow bloggers for ideas and inspiration.

As my holiday gift to you, I’m sharing a sampling of my favorite blogs.  Enjoy! Continue reading

World AIDS Day – Getting to Zero

Each year on December 1st, World AIDS Day is celebrated around the world. It has become one of the most recognized international health days.

This year’s World AIDS Day theme is Getting to Zero – Zero New HIV Infections. Zero Discrimination and Zero AIDS Related Deaths.

World AIDS Day gives people the opportunity to commemorate the accomplishments and achievements that have been reached so far in the fight against HIV/AIDS. It also is a reminder of the work that remains to be done.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that as of 2009 the number of people living with HIV reached 33.3 million globally.

Maine is not immune to the epidemic. According to the Maine CDC, as the end of 2010, there were 1,563 people living with diagnosed HIV in Maine, with 59 cases diagnosed in 2010 alone.

Want to know what’s happening in your part of Maine to commemorate World AIDS Day? Continue reading

Family Planning: Celebrating History & Committing to the Future

Author Jean Baker, signs copies of her new book about Margaret Sanger

Last Wednesday, November 9th, about 100 people gathered at the Harraseeket Inn in Freeport to hear author and historian, Jean Baker, talk about her new book, Margaret Sanger: A Life of Passion.

Dr. Baker teaches history at Goucher College and has written several books on various topics in American history. Her lecture was enlightening and inspiring. Baker talked about Margaret Sanger as a person who was committed to improving the lives of women and their families, a woman who was a product of her times and who could be difficult, but who nevertheless gave her life to the effort to assure that every woman was, in Sanger’s own words, “the absolute mistress of her own body.”

In talking with Dr. Baker at the start of the evening, I was impressed by how interested she was in what’s happening with family planning in Maine. She asked as many or more questions than she answered. But Dr. Baker and her lecture are just a part of what made the evening so special to me.

Continue reading

7 Billion… and Counting

October 31, 2011 — That’s the day United Nations demographers determined that planet Earth is now host to seven billion people.  The number is significant for lots of reasons — the rapidity with which we reached this number, the concerns about food and energy and water and all of the resources needed to sustain such a large number of people on a very finite planet.

I wanted to write something about this topic for On the Front Lines, to talk about the link between population growth and access to family planning services.  So I did some reading on the subject. Continue reading

Do You Think Sex is Bad or Good? — Answering Students’ Questions

Anyone who has ever taught a sex education class knows that students come to class with a multitude of questions. When a trusted adult creates a safe space for young people they may ask questions that can be challenging to answer. Questions like, “What’s a wet dream?” or “Is sex better with a bigger penis?” or “Do you think sex is bad or good?”

Answering anonymous student questions is almost always part of evidence-based curriculums. And it’s also the part of the curriculum that’s the least scripted, where teachers don’t always know what to expect or how to respond to different kinds of questions.

As the primary resource for sexuality educators in Maine, the FPA is always seeking new ways to support those who have the responsibility for teaching sex ed to our young people.  To that end, our Pregnancy Prevention Program staff is creating a series of short video clips around the theme of “Answering Students’ Questions.” Continue reading

Project Connect: Unplanned Pregnancy Through a Domestic Violence Lens

Last week, I wrote about reproductive coercion and the impact it has on women’s health. I mentioned that knowing about this issue can change the way we approach STD and pregnancy prevention work. As promised, here’s a follow-up article about Project Connect: A Coordinated Public Health Initiative to Prevent Domestic and Sexual Violence.

Project Connect has lots of moving parts and I think all of them are terribly exciting.  For me, the most wonderful thing about this project is the way it approaches domestic and sexual violence as reproductive health issues.  The best way to explain what I mean is to give you a couple of scenarios. Continue reading

Unplanned Pregnancy & Domestic Violence: Exploring the Connection

With each passing month I work at the FPA, I gain new knowledge of and insights into the lives of women and teen girls. My learning for this month is related to the issues of domestic violence and sexual assault. I am not a stranger to these two facts of life. In my previous work experience, I had many opportunities to work closely with the people and agencies dealing directly with women impacted by both.

I recently met with FPA staff member Kini Tinkham who serves as Program Director of Project Connect. And, as often happens, I learned way more than I expected to.

Project Connect is an FPA-led collaboration of providers and advocates from domestic violence and sexual assault organizations, family planning and school-based health centers, and minority organizations. Now in its third year, Project Connect continues to focus on the goal of creating a coordinated community response to domestic violence and sexual assault, including reproductive coercion.

Here’s where my learning curve banked steeply upward. Reproductive coercion? I knew what the words meant but I didn’t have a full understanding of the scope of the problem and its impact on women’s health. This seemed like a topic worth sharing with our readers. I hope you agree. Continue reading

It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month — What’s Your Prevention Strategy?

Last year I reached a major life marker in the form of my 50th birthday. Now – a full year into my fifties – I’m noticing bodily changes and limitations I didn’t have in my thirties and forties. And, reaching the age of fifty made me really and truly face the fact that I’m not going to live forever… who knew?!

And here’s a fact I now have to face — for the average woman living in the U.S. the odds of getting breast cancer increase significantly once she enters her fifties. It’s not something I dwell on but when Breast Cancer Awareness Month rolls around, I pay more attention to prevention messages than I did as a younger woman.

I’ve been reading the American Cancer Society website and I thought I’d pass some information along to our readers. Keep in mind that this isn’t a substitute for medical advice from a licensed practitioner. I’m just sharing some information in hopes that it helps you stay healthy. Continue reading

On The Front Lines