For Immediate Release
Maine Family Planning Announces Increase to Abortion Access
WASHINGTON - Reproductive health clinics around the country are struggling to keep their doors open in the face of state-imposed restrictions, provider shortages, and hostile anti-choice environments. Since 2011, 162 clinics have closed, while only 21 new clinics have opened.
As of today, February 29, things look different in Maine.
Maine Family Planning announced today, February 29, that it will increase abortion access to underserved areas through the use of telemedicine technology. Patients who would otherwise have to drive long distances to access services may now be able to access care at one of 17 Maine Family Planning centers. This expansion represents a 6-fold increase in stand-alone, publicly-available clinics providing abortion (increase from 3 clinics to 19).
With this expansion, Maine joins Iowa and Minnesota as one of only three states where abortion services are known to be available via telemedicine. Despite its relative rarity, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has formally recognized that telemedicine “can help to bring this safe, effective method of reproductive care to the women who need it.”
Maine Family Planning’s decision to use telemedicine technology to provide abortion care is driven by a commitment to access. While abortion is legal in Maine, significant travel distances to clinics make the procedure functionally inaccessible to Mainers with few resources. Patients must find childcare, may have to miss work, and have to pay for travel on top of the cost of the procedure—which an overwhelming majority of patients pay for out-of-pocket.
The expansion in services is in line with the organization’s other efforts to make abortion more accessible, including their latest legal effort in partnership with the ACLU of Maine, Mabel Wadsworth Women’s Health Center, and Planned Parenthood of Northern New England to challenge the state’s ban on Medicaid coverage for abortion.
Over the last 15 years, legal restrictions to abortion access have skyrocketed nationwide, taking a particularly devastating toll in Texas, where legal restrictions have closed dozens of clinics throughout the state. An expansion of the number of legal medical facilities providing abortion in rural states like Maine and Iowa stands in stark contrast to this trend, and may be one answer to ensuring meaningful access to a constitutionally protected medical procedure.
"As the Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments on a law that shuttered most of the abortion clinics in Texas, the ability to expand access to abortion becomes even more meaningful. We are proud to be able to provide care to women throughout Maine by decreasing the barriers associated with the time and cost of traveling, and hope other states follow suit.” Leah Coplon, Director of Abortion Services, Maine Family Planning.
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Maine Family Planning's mission is to ensure that all Maine people have access to high-quality, affordable reproductive health care, comprehensive sexual health education, and the right to control their reproductive lives.