Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine LD 498 Press Conference

Posted on May 7, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

“Maine people are being short-changed on the Kid-Safe Products Act right now,” said Danna Hayes, Director of Public Policy for the Maine Women’s Lobby. “The Maine DEP has repeatedly done far less than the law intends and allows when it comes to protecting pregnant women and children from exposure to dangerous chemicals. In some cases the DEP is simply collecting information already available from other states, and in other cases they are ignoring the strongest scientific evidence of harm or exposure. This pattern means far too many Maine kids are needlessly being put at risk for learning disabilities, reproductive problems, cancer, asthma and allergies.”

An overflow crowd gathered at the State House on Thursday for a public hearing on LD 948, “An Act to Harmonize Maine’s Laws governing Toxic Chemicals in Children’s Products with Those of Other States”. Representative Sara Gideon (D-Freeport) introduced LD 948, also called “the Healthy Kids Bill” and it has been co-sponsored by both Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate.

“This bill offers a simple path forward that will support Maine families and businesses every step of the way,” stated Bettyann Sheats, owner of Finishing Touches Shower Doors in Auburn. “Phthalates are just one example of chemicals used in everyday products that we know are harmful. Where are these chemicals used? Are there safer alternatives? These are straight-forward questions that can and should be answered for the most toxic chemicals in use today. Maine people and businesses deserve better information than what we’re getting right now.”

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Maine Women’s Day Held At The State House (VIDEO, PIX)

Posted on February 2, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

Members of the Coalition for Maine Women and the Maine Choice Coalition gathered at the State House to outline legislative priorities on January 20th (MORE PHOTOS HERE), as well as conduct a volunteer workshop on reproductive justice and breakout sessions on lobbying legislators, building communication skills and more.

Speakers included:

Oamishri Amarasingham (ALCU of Maine)
Claire Berkowitz, Maine Children’s Alliance
Julia Colpitts, Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence
Ruth Lockhart, Mabel Wadsworth Women’s Health Center
Helen Regan, Grandmothers for Reproductive Rights

    Oamshri Amarasingham, public policy counsel, ACLU of Maine: “Women constitute the fastest growing population of incarcerated people, and the number of women in Maine’s prisons has increased six-fold since 2002. Yet while the number of women in our criminal justice system has skyrocketed, our ability to provide them with appropriate conditions has failed to keep up. Ending the shackling of pregnant women will protect the health of women and their pregnancies.”

    DSC_0039Claire Berkowitz, executive director, Maine Children’s Alliance: “Child development experts have demonstrated that the most critical development of a child’s brain happens within the first five years of life. We know that our support of strong early childhood programming will not only bolster our state’s economic recovery, but provide economic security for future generations as well. Inadequate or inaccessible child care means that parents cannot obtain or maintain gainful employment, leaving them vulnerable to falling into poverty. Despite the research on its benefits to families and communities, the early childhood programming that would support Maine’s children continues to go underfunded. Today, we are calling on our elected leaders to make early childhood programming a priority this session. The future of our state depends on it.”

    Julia Colpitts, executive director, Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence: “Economic reality – having no money or no housing – keeps many victims of violence from leaving their abuser, and can force them to return. Having a job is a first step to independence and safety. A victim’s employment is vital to building economic security and creating safety for them and for their children. Victims who want to work, to create new and sustainable lives don’t want to lose their job or be dependent on social welfare resources. This legislation will help them be successful on that economic path to safety by retaining their right to work through the crisis of violence.”
    Ruth Lockhart, executive director, Mabel Wadsworth Women’s Health Center:
    “Women are vital to our society and economy, and when women thrive, Maine thrives. For those reasons we will oppose wrong-headed bills that take us backwards. As we have for decades, we will oppose any effort to undermine a woman’s autonomy over her own reproduction. Once again this year we will oppose any attempt to abridge our civil rights, including granting exemption from state laws based on religious objection. And we will oppose efforts that demonize people who need our help.”

    Helen Regan, Grandmothers for Reproductive Rights: “Why hasn’t Maine taken advantage of an indirect, but proven way to support women in their search for job training and employment? Expansion of access to family planning services to women whose health care does not currently cover contraception will give them the tools they need to avoid unintended pregnancies known to be a huge setback for those seeking to support themselves and their families. Let’s take action that helps women help themselves.”

    More from the Maine Women’s Lobby:

    • Women are 51% of the population, but are underrepresented at every level of government where policy decisions that affect our lives are made.
    • On the first day of the new Congressional session, the majority party chose to fight for restrictions on abortion services as its top priority. And once again we need to fight bad bills in the Maine legislature that would restrict access to abortion.
    • Last year we helped defeat a dangerous bill that would have allowed people to use their religious beliefs to break laws meant to protect us all. It’s back.
    • Nearly 70,000 Maine people still can’t access the health care they need because obstructive politicians chose ideology over good health and economic common sense. But there’s still time for Maine to act.
    • Too many politicians and people in the media use stereotypes and anecdotes to talk about policies that affect women and children living in poverty rather than looking at the real people struggling to get by.
    • In Maine, more than 6 in 10 minimum wage workers are women and they need a raise.
    • More than 80% of low-wage workers can’t earn a single paid sick day – most are women who have frequent public contact in jobs such as food service, child care, elder care, and retail.
    • Only 12% of the American workforce has access to paid leave.
    • While the data overwhelmingly demonstrates the importance of early childhood programs, more than 11,000 Maine kids do not have access to Head Start due to underfunding.
    • Too many women and children still can’t live their lives free from violence.
    • Sexual assaults happen every day, and too often our culture blames the victims rather than the perpetrators.
    • Maine is the only state in New England that doesn’t have a policy against shackling pregnant inmates.
    • Maine women only earn 79 cents for every dollar made by their male counterparts.

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‘Little Beards’ Tops Maine Women’s Lobby “Top 5 Story List”

Posted on December 31, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

Via Maine Women’s Lobby comes the following:

It’s that time of year again when we look back at the work we did together. Throughout this past year, we fought against roll-backs to child labor laws, chemical reform protections, reproductive freedom, same-day voter registration, and the Maine Human Rights Act. We sent you action alerts, and you sent thousands of messages to law-makers.

And the winner is:

1. beards?
February 23, 2011 – This alert was about this (now famous) quote by Governor LePage, “The only thing that I’ve heard is if you take a plastic bottle and put it in the microwave and you heat it up, it gives off a chemical similar to estrogen. So the worst case is some women may have little beards.”

The Governor’s quote referred to a proposal to roll-back the chemical policy reform that Maine has been leading the nation with. Well, you said “not so fast, Governor.” You sent over 900 messages.

You helped to stop the roll-back.

It’s worth watching that moment again:

Yeah- good stuff there. Within the first few opening weeks of his administration, Paul LePage demonstrated what would soon become his trademark in Augusta- dismissing portions of concerned Maine citizens/ voting demographics while revealing a remarkable level of ignorance on basic facts, rarely seen so openly and blatantly in politics.

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Maine Physicians Testify in Opposition to Abortion Bills LDs 116, 924 and 1457

Posted on May 3, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

Maine Womens’ Lobby email:


L.D. 924 – “An Act to Educate Women on the Medical Risks Associated with Abortion.”

This bill would require doctors to read a biased and coercive script to a patient … 24 hours before she could obtain an abortion.

Women making decisions about their health have a right to non-biased information and conversation – not manipulation.

And that’s just one of 4 bills – 4 very bad bills – aimed at putting politicians between you and your right to make your own decisions about when and whether to bear children.

C’mon. Trust women. Trust us to make decisions that are right for our lives.

We need your help right now to counter this attack on reproductive privacy.

Misleading women, especially those struggling with difficult decisions, is unconscionable. This bill isn’t about educating women. It’s about shaming women out of choosing an abortion.

It’s about providing incomplete and medically inaccurate information.

It’s not medicine – it’s politics. And politics shouldn’t come between you and your physician.

Give right here, right now.

And, that’s not all.

L.D. 1457 would repeal Maine’s successful adult involvement law and require signed, notarized consent from a minor’s parent before she can obtain an abortion.

L.D. 116 would require two in-person visits to an abortion provider; one to provide informed consent, and a second 24 hours later to have the procedure. These proposed waiting periods increase the medical, emotional, and financial cost of abortion.

And, L.D. 1463 proposes to create a new class of crime for harm to a fetus.

We trust Maine women to make their own health choices in consultation with their medical providers. And, Maine has a longstanding, bipartisan tradition of common sense laws protecting women’s health and safety.




The public hearings on LDs 116, 924 and 1457 will be held in Room 438 starting at 1pm TODAY. Those attending are urged to please wear PINK to show support.

Photos of the press conference here.

Video of Dr. Leitzer speaking at a press conference held at the Statehouse this morning.

Links here to video of Dr. Betsy Weiss of Bangor and retired OB/GYN Dr. Robert Walker of Blue Hill, presenting their statements opposing the three bills.

Testimony of Dr. Joan Leitzer, MD, Portland

Opposition to:

LD 116, “An Act To Require a 24-hour Waiting Period prior to an Abortion”
LD 924, “An Act To Educate Women on the Medical Risks With Abortion”
LD 1457, “An Act To Strengthen the Consent Laws for Abortions Performed on Minors and Incapacitated Persons”

Submitted to Joint Standing Committee on Judiciary

May 3, 2011

Good afternoon.

I am Dr. Joan Leitzer, a psychiatrist in Portland, and have practiced psychiatry for over twenty-five years. I am also the mother of two grown children. I am here to urge you to oppose all three anti-abortion bills. The proposal that I find the most objectionable, as a physician, is the proposal (LD 924) that would require that doctors read a government-approved script to any patient seeking an abortion.

As a physician, I have an obligation to provide scientifically and medically accurate information to my patients. I also have an ethical obligation to ensure informed consent by all of my patients prior to any treatment. The three tenets of informed consent for treatment are that:

  • The patient must have the capacity to give consent.
  • Consent must be truly voluntary.
  • A patient must be provided with adequate information to make decisions.LD 924 is counter to the concept of informed consent which requires that doctors ensure that patients are capable of making a decision, are making that decision on a voluntary basis free of coercion, and have accurate information to make that decision in an informed way.Indeed, LD 924 contradicts this principle of informed consent by introducing elements of bias and coercion into the process. Counceling is not reading a government-approves script to a patient. Counceling is definitely not reading inflammatory anti-abortion language to a patient in an attempt to coerce her or shame her into not having an abortion.I understand that the Maine Right to Life Committee states that this bill was, and I quote: “modeled after legislation which has been successfully brought forward in other states: Missouri, Texas, South Dakota and Georgia”.
    However, the scripts developed by goverment officials in those states contain false, misleading and out-of-date information.

    The brochures for Texas falsely assert that abortion causes breast cancer, despite the fact that the National Cancer Institute has definitively stated that there is no such link. Even more concerning to a mental health professional like me, both Texas and South Dakota falsely assert that abortion causes negative,and only negative, emotional responses.

    That’s just not true. Some patients may feels sadness, guilt or regret, but other patients may experience a decrease of anxiety and/or relief.

    The findings of Munk-Olsen et al from the Jan 27, 2011 New England Journal of Medicine demonstrate no support of the “hypothesis that there is an increased risk of mental disorders after a first trimester abortion”. This is a high quality observational study (cohort design) and offers strong evidence suggesting that first trimester abortion is NOT associated with psychiatric disorder. In other words, there is no statistical correlation between abortion and depression. But the states that have a script assert this and other falsehoods.

    The Texas and South Dakota brochures claim that a woman may experience suicidal thoughts or so-called “postabortion traumatic stress syndrome”. This is a fictional diagnosis that is not recognized by either the American Psychological Association or the American Pediatric Association.

    The South Dakota materials state that an “unborn child may feel physical pain”. The Texas materials assert that pain perception can occur as early as 12 weeks’ gestation, although “some experts have concluded that the unborn child is probably able to feel physical pain” at 20 weeks. The truth, according to a 2005 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, is that the sensory systems necessary to feel pain develop between the 23rd and 30th week of gestation.

    The misinformation, contained in brochures from the states after which Maine Right to Life has modeled this proposal, see,s designed to convince women that abortion is wrong. Promoting an anti-abortion viewpoint through a government-issued brochure contradicts doctors’ ethical obligations to our patients.

    Even if we disagree, we should never impose our personal religious or political views on a patient. But that’s exactly what this bill will do. I urge you to reject biased government-mandated scripting of what takes place in the doctor’s office. I have dedicated my life to counseling women and men through some of the most difficult circumstances of their lives. As a professional, I uphold my ethical obligation to ensure that all of my patients provide informed consent to any course of treatment.

    There is no need to single out abortion and treat it any differently that any other legal, medical procedure. I urge you- regardless of what you think about abortion- not to impose a particular set of religious or moral views on women seeking abortion. Please reject LD 924, as well as LD 116 and LD 1457.

    Thank you.

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