2011: A Record-Breaking Year for Abortion Restrictions

I knew Maine had dodged a bullet this spring when our state legislature rejected several anti-family planning, anti-choice bills. But seeing a recent report from the Guttmacher Institute gives me a new perspective on the results in my home state. And it reminds me of what a friend used to say. You’re not being paranoid– they really are out to get you.

According to the report, 80 new abortion restrictions were enacted in the first six months of 2011. That’s more than double the previous record of 34 abortion restrictions enacted in 2005!

Clearly, the proposed bills in Maine were part of a larger strategy on the part of those who would deny women the right to make their own decisions about their pregnancies.

When I look at the Guttmacher report, it’s clear to me that the term “war on women” used so frequently during the last legislative session was not an exaggeration.  And here’s why… Continue reading

Being Social — Conversations about Family Planning

A big part of what I love about my job is the variety of conversations I have with Family Planning Association of Maine allies and donors, clients and other staff members.  I get to write about family planning, from an insider perspective, and you get to write back — sharing your opinions, experiences, and ideas. How wonderful is that?

Whether you’re responding to a Facebook status update, commenting on a blog post, or replying to an email message — so many of you have insightful things to say about the FPA and the value of family planning services. Continue reading

Summertime, Unemployment & Teen Pregnancy

Ah, summertime!  After a cold, snowy winter and a cool, rainy spring, we’re finally enjoying warm, sunshine-y days. I remember the summers of my childhood in Lewiston — riding my bicycle with friends, paddling around in the city pool, eating Popsicles — trying to keep cool in the brick and concrete heat of my downtown neighborhood.

Fast forward a few years to when I was a boy-crazy, rock-music-loving, hormone-driven teenager.  During my teens, summertime meant working extra hours at my job as a waitress in the local department store dinette. Gosh, even the word ‘dinette’ conjures up a simpler time when twenty-five cents bought you a cup of coffee and summer jobs for teens were plentiful.

Fast forward again, 35 years to the summer of 2011, and the outlook for teen employment is bleak.  Across the United States, teens seeking entry-level jobs are competing with older Americans who suffered financial losses during the recession and have had to supplement their income. Experts are predicting that only 25% of teens will find employment this summer, down from 45% in 2000.

What, you might ask, do teen unemployment rates have to do with  teen pregnancies? Well, if only one out of every four teens will have jobs this summer, I have to wonder — what will the other three out of four teens be doing? Continue reading

From Trepidation to Affirmation — The 125th Legislature & Reproductive Rights

As the current session of the Maine Legislature winds down, I’ve been reflecting on the recent challenges the FPA faced to our mission to ensure that all Maine people have access to reproductive health care and the right to control their reproductive lives.

After last November’s election, it was clear that a major change had taken place. Not only in Maine, but throughout the country, a more conservative mood prevailed among voters.  For the first time since 1974, both houses of the Maine Legislature were going to be Republican lead and there were many new legislators whose stance on reproductive rights was unknown to us.   The election of an anti-choice governor caused jubilation among anti-choice activists.

What, I wondered, did this mean for family planning and abortion care in our state?  Read the rest of this entry

How We Provide Abortion Care

During the 40 Days for Life anti-choice protest, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes for us here at the FPA to provide abortion care services.

I don’t mean the medical side of things. The FPA follows the standards of care established by the National Abortion Federation.

I’m talking about the extra factors that abortion care providers have to consider. The key elements that create a supportive environment for patients, medical providers and staff.

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Can You Imagine It? — I Can

It was 1967 and my mom was seventeen years old, alone and scared–navigating an unregulated, underground system of people claiming to be able to help her to end the pregnancy. She had nowhere to go, no one to call, no national hot-line for women considering an abortion or to even get information about what her options might be. All she had was the address of a dirty apartment in a big, unfamiliar city with enough money to get there and back.

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On The Front Lines