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Would restrict funding from Planned Parenthood, other abortion providers, for birth control outreach to at-risk women

As Maine continues to grapple with the opioid epidemic and one of the highest rates in the country of babies born exposed to opioids, a senate amendment would take the unprecedented step to prevent any health care provider that offers abortion care from applying for funding to increase access to birth control among women struggling with substance use. The amendment targets the state’s women’s healthcare providers including PPNNE.

“This is a cheap political stunt,” said Nicole Clegg, Vice President of Public Policy for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and the Planned Parenthood Maine Action Fund. “Planned Parenthood of Northern New England provides care to 1 in 5 Mainers at some point during their lifetime. We contribute significantly to the state and local communities saving the state at least $10 million annually. It makes no sense that PPNNE, other women’s health providers and hospitals would be excluded from a potential partnership with the state to better meet the needs of women in need of care.”

LD 1063 would provide funding through an RFP process for a birth control program to reach at-risk women, including women who are homeless or struggling with substance use. The amendment sponsored by Senator Eric Brakey would prevent healthcare organizations that provide abortion services, including hospitals, from being selected for the RFP.

Planned Parenthood of Northern New England is the state’s largest women’s health care provider. In 2017, PPNNE provided health care to 11,500 patients with 95% of the services preventive, including cancer screenings, birth control, well women exams, STI testing and treatment as well as general health screenings and treatment – services like diabetes screening and treatment, influenza vaccinations, and cholesterol screenings.

Last year, PPNNE provided $4.2 million in free or discounted care to its patients in Maine; 75% of patients are low-income, the overwhelming majority in their 20s and 30s. For many patients, PPNNE is their only access to care

Women experiencing homelessness or substance use disorders are particularly vulnerable and have trouble accessing health care, including birth control. Nine out of ten pregnancies among women with substance use disorders are unintended.  

“No matter her circumstances, every woman should be able to plan and space her pregnancies in the way that is best for her and her family,” said Clegg. “Excluding women’s healthcare experts from outreach and education about birth control options to at-risk women, including women struggling with substance use, is short-sighted and foolish.”

The House approved LD 1063 on April 3; the measure faces further votes in the Senate.