Tag Archives: teen pregnancy prevention

Waiting for the Title X Shoe to Drop

NFPRHA graphic on Guttmacher

Graphic via National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association on Twitter.

Any day now, we expect the Trump administration to issue its Title X Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA)—and to be honest, we’re a little nervous.

After all, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) political appointee overseeing the Title X program, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population Affairs Teresa Manning, has publicly opposed the use of federal funds for family planning and stated that contraception is ineffective. The former anti-abortion lobbyist also opposes emergency contraception. What’s more, a memo leaked last month suggested that advisers to the Trump administration are seeking to slash Title X funding by half—and/or to promote the “fertility awareness” method of birth control in place of other, more effective forms of contraception.

The National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, of which we are a member, sees the likelihood of an attack on Title X as “High;” the Guttmacher Institute said in October: “Never in its history has the nation’s family planning safety net been in such jeopardy as it is today.”

You can see why we’re not exactly optimistic.

There are a few ways HHS could go after family planning providers through Title X:

  • By cutting or eliminating Title X funding altogether;
  • By altering the parameters of the grant to include so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” (which use tactics of misinformation and deception to prevent women from accessing abortion care) as eligible entities or “tiering” providers (giving preference to public health departments or primary care providers in order to shut out non-profit organizations like MFP);
  • By putting onerous conditions on Title X recipients—and their patients—such as requiring parental notification and consent for teens seeking contraceptive care, a policy repeatedly rejected by the Maine Legislature;
  • By instituting what’s known as the Domestic Gag Rule, which would bar Title X-funded health care providers from talking about abortion as one of three choices available to pregnant patients who come to us for comprehensive options counseling.

Under any of the above scenarios, the Maine Family Planning network of providers (18 MFP clinics, plus four Planned Parenthood sites, 20 Federally-Qualified Health Centers, and five school-based health centers) would be hamstrung in its ability to provide a full range of contraceptive and reproductive health care services to low-income, uninsured, and underinsured women, men, and teens around the state.

We are staying vigilant as the right wing’s latest attack on women’s health care looms. Stay tuned.

New Abortion Data: A Clarion Call to Family Planning Advocates

On Thursday, the Guttmacher Institute released a new analysis published in the American Journal of Public Health, giving insight into US abortion trends.

The data is fascinating and Maine Family Planning views it as a clarion call to continue and expand the work we’re doing in our clinics, in court, and in our communities.

The report from Guttmacher shows an overall decline in the US abortion rate between 2008-2014. Despite the 25 percent decline, abortion is still a common procedure in this country; one in four American women will have an abortion by age 45. Deep disparities remain among different demographic groups, with abortion increasingly concentrated among poor women and a long history of racism and discrimination contributing to differences in the abortion rate according to race and ethnicity.

These findings underscore the important work Maine Family Planning is doing to increase contraceptive use and abortion access around the state, as well as how much is at stake amid political attacks on reproductive health care nationwide. We see a declining abortion rate as a victory only if it is rooted in advances in comprehensive, affordable reproductive health care and the political and social conditions to support reproductive self-determination for everyone. Unfortunately, at least some of the recent decline can be attributed to politically-motivated & medically unnecessary state-level abortion restrictions that prevent women in many states from accessing care when they need it. Additionally, it’s clear that quality health care services remain financially out of reach for some Americans, rendering them unable to effectively plan pregnancies. As the hostile Trump administration continues its assault on health care, we fear these factors will only become more pronounced.

Our focus remains on empowering women to avoid unintended pregnancies via highly effective contraceptive methods, to be able to access abortion when they need to, and to make decisions based on their own visions of the families they want. Maine Family Planning is battling on many fronts to achieve full access to reproductive freedom: From offering comprehensive prevention programming in schools and long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) in our clinics; to providing innovative abortion care via telemedicine; to fighting in court to expand Medicaid coverage for abortions and overturn Maine’s burdensome law prohibiting nurse practitioners from providing abortion; to working with like-minded groups on the upcoming Yes on 2 vote to make Maine the first state to expand Medicaid by referendum. Guttmacher’s latest statistics prove that our work remains vital and necessary.

What About the Boys?

Continuing our focus on National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month, this week’s post is written by one of FPA’s Pregnancy Prevention Coordinators.

I’ll never forget it. Standing in front of a hundred or so eighth-grade boys, I asked them where they got their information about sex and staying healthy.  After an uncomfortable silence, one brave soul shrugged and said “Mostly…from the streets.”

The ‘streets’ he was referring to are lined with oak trees and sidewalks.  But, I knew what he meant. I had been asked to speak to that group of boys because the principal discovered an underground condom ring going on within the school.  Yep, that’s right.  Some entrepreneurial boy realized he could make good money selling condoms to his classmates.  The same condoms, mind you, that can be legally obtained in about ten different stores in their town.  This makes you wonder…

When I asked them if they had these conversations with an adult at home, they slowly shook their heads.  A few gave me a patronizing smile with that “You’re outta your mind, lady.” look.  I have posed this question to students before, so I wasn’t surprised by their reaction.  But, something about that particular instance has always stuck with me.  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

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

Top 10 Reasons Why Evidence-Based Pregnancy Prevention is Better than Abstinence-Only Education

After writing last week’s blog post about Sarah, my new teen pregnancy prevention hero, I realized that our readers might not be familiar with the term “evidence-based” as it relates to sexuality education.

I thought I’d write an explanation. But when I found myself mired deeper and deeper in more and more complex terminology, I started to worry.

How could I possibly explain this stuff without putting my readers to sleep?

Then the proverbial light bulb came on and I decided to put together a Top Ten List, a la David Letterman, comparing comprehensive, evidence-based pregnancy prevention programming with abstinence-only-until-marriage education.  So, here goes… Continue reading