Today, after nearly 50 years as the Title X grantee for Maine, we notified the Office of Population Affairs within the US Department of Health and Human Services that Maine Family Planning is withdrawing from the Title X National Family Planning Program.
We did not come to this decision easily. But we cannot comply with the Domestic Gag Rule — a set of ideologically motivated changes to what has been a tremendously successful federal program. Doing so would violate our medical ethics and decimate abortion access in our large and rural state.
Here’s an excerpt from the letter we sent to Diane Foley, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population Affairs:
For nearly five decades, Title X has been a cornerstone for women’s reproductive health in our state. In collaboration with our partner organizations, much has been accomplished: Maine has consistently ranked among the top 5-10 states in the nation for its low teen pregnancy rates; last year it was reported to have the highest rate of effective contraceptive use among people at greatest risk for unintended pregnancy.
We do not take this decision lightly. We are proud of what we have accomplished as the state’s Title X grantee and we will continue—without Title X funds–to provide high-quality, affordable reproductive health care, comprehensive options counseling, and judgement-free referral for abortion care.
Maine Family Planning withdraws from the Title X program—more in sorrow than in anger–because the Domestic Gag Rule, which the Office of Population Affairs is responsible for implementing, would fundamentally compromise the relationship our patients have with us as trusted providers of this most personal and private health care. It is simply wrong to deny patients accurate information about and access to abortion care.
For now, Maine Family Planning will fill the funding gap using its own limited reserves. To that end, we THANK each and every donor who contributed to our amazing 18 Clinics/18 Days/$18K matching gift campaign. We far exceeded our goal, raising more than $30,000 for our community clinics statewide.
We continue to seek alternative sources of public funding to preserve and maintain Maine’s successful family planning network. We believe access to affordable, evidence-based sexual and reproductive health care to be a public health imperative.