Maine activists meet to defend Planned Parenthood
Planned Parenthood Maine Action Fund will host an Action Forum in Portland tonight (Wednesday, December 21st) in order to provide an opportunity for activists and supporters to organize to protect reproductive and sexual health care in Maine in an uncertain political landscape following November’s election.
Tonight’s Forum is set to begin at 6PM at the Portland Administrative Offices at 443 Congress Street. This is the second such meeting in Maine, after an event last month brought together 110 supporters and activists.
The forums come as anti-women’s health members of Congress have pledged to start attacking reproductive health care in the months ahead, beginning in January when Congress comes back into session. Worry over increased attacks against access to basic reproductive health care such as cancer screenings, birth control, STD testing and treatment and well-woman exams has grown.
“When a patient walks into our health center to access to basic even lifesaving health care, it shouldn’t political, but a handful of politicians who believe they should be involved in the personal, private medical decisions of women are determined to make it just that,” said Nicole Clegg, Vice President of Public Policy for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. “Their extreme views could impact the care of millions of people across the country who count on Planned Parenthood. The consequences of their attacks would be devastating for women and their families, and cost taxpayers millions. Tonight’s event is one of hundreds happening across the country and speaks to the overwhelming support the public has for Planned Parenthood and the services we provide.”
Maine’s own Christian Civic League declared in an email to its membership today that defunding Planned Parenthood was its top priority for the coming year, calling the election results an “incredible opportunity.”
If they were to successfully defund the organization, millions of people — nearly half of whom are people of color, and many people who live in rural areas — would lose access to essential care. Planned Parenthood serves approximately 10,000 of patients in Maine at four health centers located in Biddeford, Portland, Sanford and Topsham. Last year, the clinics provided $3.5 million in free or discounted care to people in Maine, as well as more than 2300 breast exams and birth control services to 8200 patients.
The term “defunding” Planned Parenthood is a misnomer — the legislation anticipated in the new Congress bars anyone who relies on Medicaid or other federal programs for their health insurance from turning to Planned Parenthood as their health care provider. Planned Parenthood health centers serve 2.5 million people a year, more than half of whom rely on federal programs for care, and in many areas including Maine, Planned Parenthood health centers are the only family planning option for those who rely on Medicaid or other safety net programs.
This Action Forum is part of a national organizing effort by Planned Parenthood Action Fund. Over the next few months, there will be close to 300 organizing events that will help mobilize thousands of supporters all over the country to work to protect and promote women’s health and rights, and fight back against Congressional attempts to defund Planned Parenthood.
Since the election, Planned Parenthood has seen an outpouring of support, with Planned Parenthood affiliates flooded with new volunteers and taking action on social media. Nationally, more than 315,000 individual donations were made to Planned Parenthood organizations and over 82,000 in Pence’s name to make sure access to health care is protected. Planned Parenthood health centers also saw a 900% increase in requests for appointments for birth control, and especially long-acting contraceptives such as IUDs, showing how many people both rely on Planned Parenthood for care, and are worried about losing their access to health care under the new administration.
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