February 13, 2020

Birth Control, Health Care, Title X

Today at the State House, family planning patients, providers, and advocates will gather in support of LD 1613, Speaker Sara Gideon’s bill to fund the statewide family planning network after the loss of federal Title X funds.

This bill would ensure continued access to affordable birth control, STI testing and treatment, cancer screenings, and other sexual and reproductive health services for 23,000 Mainers. Without this funding, tens of thousands of Mainers would face barriers to low-cost, high-quality, non-judgmental health care from trusted providers in their communities.

Family planning health clinics ⁠— there are 50 of them in our statewide network ⁠— are a lifeline for Mainers who struggle to make ends meet, who are un- or under-insured, or who live in rural parts of the state.

Last year, the Trump-Pence administration’s Domestic Gag Rule forced qualified providers out of the Title X National Family Planning program, jeopardizing basic health care for vulnerable people nationwide. Maine Family Planning refused to comply with the medically unethical Gag Rule, which would have restricted what our practitioners could say to patients about abortion care; undermined standards of care; and threatened patient confidentiality (especially for minors). The Gag Rule was designed to push comprehensive reproductive health care providers like MFP and Planned Parenthood out of what used to be an effective, bipartisan federal program.

LD 1613 ensures not one Mainer loses access to basic health care as a result of the misguided Gag Rule.

Broad Support for Family Planning

Leading medical and advocacy organizations in Maine support this bill.

Family Planning Funding Sign-On Letter

We the undersigned organizations and individuals urge the State to make an immediate investment in Maine’s family planning network to ensure every Mainer, regardless of income or where they live, can access comprehensive, high-quality, and affordable sexual and reproductive health care from an expert provider in their community.

As a coalition, we collectively represent tens of thousands of patients, providers, and advocates in Maine. The family planning network is a key piece of our state’s public health infrastructure. We support Maine’s sexual and reproductive health care leaders in their effort to secure sustainable public funding for a network of health centers that offer essential services such as birth control, cancer screenings, and STD testing and treatment to predominately low-income and rural Mainers.

For nearly 50 years, Maine received federal family planning funds through the Title X National Family Planning Program, administered in our state by Maine Family Planning. These funds supported the provision of birth control and other preventive care to more than 22,000 Mainers each year, close to 80 percent of whom qualified for free or reduced-fee services. Maine’s robust family planning network has been a driving force behind high rates of effective contraceptive use and low unintended pregnancy and teen pregnancy rates.

Despite its demonstrable public health benefits, the Trump administration put forth a politically motivated plan to gut Title X. These rule changes were collectively dubbed the Domestic Gag Rule because they forbid referrals for abortion and impose other limitations on the speech and activities of organizations involved in Title X care.

Maine’s sole Title X grantee, Maine Family Planning, refused to comply with the Domestic Gag Rule and withdrew from the Title X program on August 19, 2019 — leaving a significant gap in public funding for the state’s family planning system.

Now, our State legislature has an opportunity to step in and ensure this network of health centers can continue to meet Mainers’ sexual and reproductive health care needs. The services offered by family planning providers are in the public interest, save the State health care dollars, and empower people to build the families and futures they envision for themselves. This network warrants public investment. A lack of legislative action would mean fewer services offered and potential clinic closures — disproportionately impacting low-income and rural Mainers.

This coalition shares a common goal: To improve Mainers’ health and economic security. We urge the State to help realize that goal by passing LD 1613 this legislative session.


Maine Family Planning
Planned Parenthood of Northern New England
Maine Medical Association
Maine Primary Care Association
Maine Equal Justice
Maine Nurse Practitioners Association
Maine Affiliate of the American College of Nurse Midwives
Maine Women’s Lobby
Maine People’s Alliance
Maine Access Points
Maine Transgender Network
American Civil Liberties Union of Maine
Health Equity Alliance
Mabel Wadsworth Center
Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence
Suit Up Maine
Grandmothers for Reproductive Rights
Maine Providers Standing Up for Healthcare

(current as of 2/13/20)