Having access to the full range of health care women need throughout our lives includes preventative and routine dental care. But too many people in our state can’t access this important care. It’s an especially challenging issue for people living in rural Maine, those without transportation, and those who lack mobility—such as the elderly and disabled.

  • 31% of Mainers don’t have a dentist
  • Dental care is the most common unmet health treatment need in children
  • 15 of 16 Maine counties have federally designated shortage areas
  • 40% of dentists plan to retire or reduce their hours within the next five years

Right now, legislators are considering a bill that will align educational and supervision standards for Dental Hygiene Therapists (DHTs) with new, nationally-recognized guidelines. DHTs were established in 2014 to provide safety net clinics and private practice dentists a way to extend care to people who cannot get care across our state. We need your help to make this happen.

This bill would allow Dental Hygiene Therapists, under the supervision of a dentist, to provide routine oral health care to people in places where it isn’t readily available. It will make it easier for pregnant & postpartum women, children, and seniors to access this vital care.

Contact your legislators and encourage them to support LD 1514, “An Act to Conform Maine Law to the Requirements of the American Dental Association Commission on Dental Accreditation,” which will:

  • Align with Commission on Dental Accreditation’s (CODA) national accreditation standards;
  • Allow educational institutions to work with CODA to design curriculum and degree offerings;
  • Grants supervision authority exclusively to the supervising dentist; and
  • Establish reciprocity for DHTs trained in other states.

With your help, dentists across our state will be able to expand their care to more people in need.

Please go to www.dentalaccessforme.com, enter your zip code, and send your legislator an email today!


Today we’re celebrating the 23rd anniversary of the Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Since it was signed into law, workers have used it more than 200 million times to take unpaid time off when a baby is born, to recover from surgery, to care for an ill spouse, and help aging parents.

FMLA was a big step forward, but because it only protects unpaid leave for some workers, we need to do more. Several states have already taken action to provide their residents with paid leave. Maine—and the whole country—needs to follow their lead.

When you make a monthly gift of $5, $10, $20, or whatever works for your budget, you help sustain our work on this vital issue.


A new poll released yesterday found that 4 in 5 voters support a paid family and medical leave law. That’s not surprising because we all know how hard it is to balance work with the rest of our lives. We know that moms need time at home after giving birth or adopting a child. We know that strokes, cancer, heart disease, and other illnesses don’t check to see if you have paid leave before attacking you or a loved one. We know that unexpected accidents can make it impossible to work.

Life happens. A state or federal paid leave law will help make sure that when we need to take time to care for our families, we don’t have to worry about missing a paycheck.

If you want to share your story about needing paid leave, talk to Molly at 207.622.0851 x2 or email mbogart@mainewomen.org.

Please consider making a donation to strengthen our work to make paid leave a reality for all Mainers.


Happy Anniversary, FMLA! Here’s to making you even better!

“So, my fellow Americans, whatever you may believe, whether you prefer one party or no party, our collective future depends on your willingness to uphold your obligations as a citizen.  To vote.  To speak out.  To stand up for others, especially the weak, especially the vulnerable, knowing that each of us is only here because somebody, somewhere, stood up for us.  To stay active in our public life so it reflects the goodness and decency and optimism that I see in the American people every single day.” –President Obama in his final State of the Union address



This month the second half of the 127th Legislature got underway. Thanks to the generous support of our members, we’re able to continue to be a strong advocate for Maine women during this legislative session.

Some of the issues we’ll be working on include:

  • Helping nearly 70,000 Mainers receive health care through a bipartisan effort to accept federal funds available to Maine under the Affordable Care Act;
  • Expanding access to dental care because dental care is another important part of health care—especially for pregnant and post-partum women;
  • Providing pregnant women with more control over where to safely deliver by supporting a bill to create a licensing program for midwives in Maine;
  • Adopting real solutions that help move Maine people out of poverty for good—and standing against any attempts to make it harder for families living in poverty to get back on their feet;
  • Raising Maine’s minimum wage and eliminating the subminimum wage for workers who receive tips—who are mostly women; and
  • Strengthening protections for victims of trafficking.

Our partners in the Alliance for Maine Women spoke about some of these legislative priorities at Women’s Day at the State House. The Alliance works to ensure that all Mainers have the economic, social, and political power to make decisions about their bodies, sexuality, health, and families – with an emphasis on securing these rights for Maine Women. Those who attended on January 21st also participated in workshops such as Standing Up for Reproductive Justice, Raising Maine’s Minimum Wage,Advocacy 101, and Changing the Conversation Around Poverty.

Read more about Women’s Day at the State House on our blog and MPBN.

Read some of the remarks from the Alliance for Maine Women press conference on our blog.

Throughout the legislative session we’ll be sharing opportunities to take action. If are particularly interested in helping with one of the issues mentioned above, please contact Molly at 207.622.0851 x2 or mbogart@mainewomen.org.

You can check out the status of bills, listen in to public hearings, watch or listen to the action the floor of the House and Senate, and more by visiting legislature.maine.gov.



Webinar: Expanding Access to Paid Family Leave & Earned Paid Sick Days

Wednesday, February 24

Noon – 1 PM

RSVP to kkilraindelrio@mainewomen.org or 207.622.0851 x3

Sometimes we all need to take time to get well or to care for a loved one. It might be a few days during flu season or it might be longer after a surgery or the birth of a child. But the majority of workers in Maine and our country can’t afford to take the time they need because they can’t earn even one paid sick day or they don’t have access to paid family & medical leave.

In this webinar, we’ll explore opportunities to change our workplace policies to better reflect the needs of families in the 21st century. You’ll also learn about opportunities to take action to move these policies forward.

20th Annual Girls’ Day at the State House

Tuesday, March 1

8:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Maine State House and Cross Office Building, Augusta

For two decades we’ve brought together 100 eighth grade girls from across the state for this special day. The girls learn about the importance of women’s leadership and how public policy decisions get made. There are several ways you can help make it a successful day for the girls who participate:

  • Become a mentor. Our volunteer mentors spend the day with a group of ten girls – we can’t do the day without them. We also have a few other volunteer roles that only happen for part of the day. Contact Molly atmbogart@mainewomen.org or 207-622-0851 x2 if you’re interested in volunteering.
  • Be a Girls’ Day sponsor. If you or your business would like to make a financial contribution to support this special day, contact Kathy atkkilraindelrio@mainewomen.org or 207-622-0851 x3.

Did you or someone you know attend one of our first 19 Girls’ Days at the State House? We’d love to connect with you as we celebrate our 20th anniversary of this special event. Let us know about your experience by talking with Molly at 207.622.0851 x2 or mbogart@mainewomen.org.



On January 28th, Mary Bonauto of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), Kate Knox of Bernstein Shur, and Zach Heiden of the ACLU of Maine shared their expertise about the federal courts. The Art of Advocacy: How the Federal Courts Serve as an Effective Tool for Change was cosponsored by the Maine Women’s Policy Center, the Women’s Law Association at the University of Maine School of Law, and Courts Matter to ME.

Courts Matter to ME is a coalition that raises awareness about the importance of the federal courts and the growing number of vacancies on the federal bench that impede justice for us all. Our own Eliza Townsend wrote an op-ed about this with Patty Weber of the National Council of Jewish Women: Senate stalling on federal judge nominees needlessly harms justice system. And earlier this month, Courts Matter to ME hosted a tweetstorm with the hashtag #CourtsMatter2016. Some resolutions we’d like our U.S. Senators to adopt are:

1.  Prioritize clearing the backlog of judicial emergencies.

2.  Nominate and confirm federal judges with diverse backgrounds.

3.  Ensure qualified judicial nominees receive timely votes.

4.  Stop playing politics with our judicial system.

Follow @CourtsMatterME, #WhyCourtsMatter, and #SCOTUS on twitter for more updates on the federal courts.



Our friends at Southern Maine Workers’ Center are working to collect 1,000 health care surveys from across Maine before March 15th to help all of us better understand the challenges of the current health care system and what needs to change in order for us to have our needs met. We all need health care so all of us have a perspective that matters.

Health Care is a Human Right Survey

Now – March 15

Survey: bit.ly/1JWD4vv



We share a lot of news on Facebook and Twitter—that’s one of the reasons you should definitely connect with us on those sites. But in case you missed any of our posts, here’s some of the news stories we thought you might want to read this month:

Why we are suing for equal access to abortion

43 years after Roe v. Wade, why we (still) need reproductive justice

ME Human Rights Commission issues guidance on sexual orientation discrimination in schools

Conditions now favorable for expansion of Medicaid coverage in Maine

Anti-expansion stance keeps Maine’s uninsured rate from falling

After federal move, paid parental leave programs starting to expand in U.S. cities

The FAMILY Act would support us when we need it most

Mainers gather in Winthrop to share stories about immigration

The response to sex trafficking must be all-encompassing

These are the issues that lead to sex trafficking and how to prevent them

Self-care is a Political Act



One way to ensure that the Maine Women’s Lobby has a steady stream of income throughout the year is to make a recurring donation as a Loyal Lobbyist.


Your gift of $16 a month—or whatever works for your budget—helps us create a future where all of us can live our lives free from violence and discrimination, with access to a full range of health care, and with real economic security.

On January 21, the Alliance for Maine Women held a press conference to announce their legislative priorities as part of Women’s Day at the State House. The following remarks are excerpts from that press conference.

Remarks by Gilda Nardone, executive director of New Ventures Maine:

The Alliance for Maine Women has recently formed out of a merger of the Coalition for Maine Women and the Maine Alliance for Reproductive Freedom. The Alliance for Maine Women is a broad network of organizations working to ensure that all Mainers have the economic, social, and political power to make decisions about their bodies, sexuality, health, and families—with an emphasis on securing these rights for Maine women. The Alliance for Maine Women brings together members with diverse expertise and experiences who understand that all people in Maine benefit when Maine women have the right to economic security and reproductive justice (including access to abortion), and can live their lives with agency, autonomy, and freedom from violence. Members of the Alliance for Maine Women work to achieve this through legislative and legal advocacy, community organizing, and public education.

Today we have come together to remind our elected leaders that as they consider policies during this legislative session, they must remember that women and girls make up more than half of Maine’s population. If they truly want Maine to prosper, our legislators need to consider how their policies will impact women and our families.

This morning we will highlight some of the bills and legislative efforts that will improve the lives of Maine women. We also urge our elected leaders and those of you in the media to reach out to our member organizations when you want to know more about how policies being considered by the legislature will affect women’s lives.


Remarks by Chris Yentes, a certified professional midwife from the Mid-Coast:

My name is Christine Yentes and I am a certified professional midwife. I work with women who choose to have their babies at home.  For the past 24 years my life has been enriched by the women and their families that I have worked with, across race, class, religion and political spectrums as they go through their pregnancies and birth their babies. My journey to midwifery began even longer ago when I was 22 and by chance was invited to attend a dear friend’s birth. That night and into the next morning my friend labored and her midwife supported her as she worked to birth her baby daughter. I had never seen the raw power of a woman before that night. I had also never heard of a midwife before, never been to a birth before but I knew after watching  this amazing, spectacular and empowering experience that I wanted to be a midwife and work with women as they birthed their babies. It took having 3 of my own babies, one in the hospital, and the next 2 at home before I was able to actively move towards the goal of become a midwife.

I was trained in the time honored tradition of a three year apprenticeship as well as graduating from an out of state midwifery program.

In those 24 years, I have been a part of welcoming close to 500 new babies into the world. I have done thousands of prenatal and postpartum visits with moms and dads. I’ve supported new families in birthing tubs, in beds, on the couch, and one time on a very perfect warm summer day under an apple tree.

Despite the overwhelming positive birth experiences I’ve helped facilitate I have experienced challenges, many of which relate to home birth midwifery being seen as outside of the maternity care system. One of the scenarios that can happen after a birth is the mother may have some extra bleeding that is easily managed with medications. It has often been difficult to obtain the medications needed to manage these situations.

Women and their families have the right to choose the birth experience and environment that is right for them. In Maine, we want all the options available to be safe, and relationships and systems in place should the unexpected happen. Our bill, LD 690, “An Act to Ensure the Safety of Home Birth” is about making home birth as safe as possible – by allowing midwives like myself, a process to become licensed.

As a licensed midwife, unnecessary barriers to lab work, ultrasounds, and a short list of important  medication, will be removed – for myself as a care-provider and for my clients. Furthermore, licensing grants public recognition, acknowledges and mandates professional standards of practice, and increases the credibility of midwives to the public and other health professionals. It promises to foster inter-professional relationships and contracts which can improve access to services, allows for participation and protection of peer review and professional competency review practices, and can offer a framework and opportunities to address practice concerns and outcomes.

Licensing of all midwives in all care settings, including home, birth center, and hospital, ensures greater access and safety for all women and babies in the birth setting of a family’s choice. It creates a continuum of care that places the patient in the center while increasing appropriate collaboration based on optimal health and safety.

The home birth midwifery community in Maine is thrilled to be working with our sponsor, Senator Amy Volk and the members of the Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee on our bill. We are gratetful for the support of the Alliance for Maine Women. Together, we will stand-up for women and families to ensure access to a wide range of birth experiences.


Remarks by Amy Halstead, associate director at the Maine People’s Alliance:

Good morning! My name is Amy Halsted; I’m the Associate Director of the Maine People’s Alliance, the state’s largest progressive grassroots community organizing group, with 32,000 member households across Maine.

I’m happy to be here today with so many great advocates for Maine women. We know that when Maine women succeed, Maine families and communities succeed.  The Maine economy succeeds.

Today, eight out of ten women work –and four of those ten women are the sole or primary wage earner in their family. Yet today, for too many women, the challenge of making ends meet for themselves is a day to day struggle.

In Maine, as with every other state in this country, women are paid less than men. Maine women earn 84 cents for every dollar their male counterparts earn, for a median income of $36,000. In Maine, 70 percent of minimum wage workers are women. More than one in four working mothers makes less than a living wage.

It’s not right that a woman in Maine can work full time and still not be able to provide for her family. It’s time to reassess the policies that will help working women succeed. The legislature can and should do such more to dismantle outdated workplace policies and find more ways to ensure that women can fully take part in our economy. But we know that change isn’t made overnight. And we also know that we don’t have to wait to tackle some of the most pressing economic issues facing Maine women.

That’s why MPA is part of a coalition called Mainers for Fair Wages that is working to put a minimum wage increase on the ballot in 2016. This initiative would raise Maine’s minimum wage to $9 an hour in 2017 and then a dollar each year afterward until it reaches $12 an hour in 2020.

The referendum policy also gradually increases the minimum wage for tipped workers until it reaches the same level for all other minimum-wage workers by 2024.

Increasing wages for tipped workers is especially important to anyone who truly cares about closing the wage gap. Tipped workers (like restaurant servers) are mostly women and are among the lowest-paid minimum-wage workers in Maine and nationally. Compared to other workers, tipped workers are over twice as likely to fall below the federal poverty line and nearly three times as likely to qualify for food stamps.

Something is very wrong when hardworking women who serve food to our tables every day at restaurants far too often don’t earn enough put food on the tables of their own families.

Last week we delivered over 75,000 certified signatures to put this on the November ballot. Nearly one-third of all working women in Maine will get a much-needed raise when this passes in November.

We are all here today because it’s time for the Maine Legislature to stand with women and our families for the economic policies and health care and reproductive freedoms that will improve our lives.  If the legislature is slow to act on these vital priorities for their constituents, we can take the lead ourselves, at the ballot box.


Remarks by Eliza Townsend, executive director of the Maine Women’s Lobby:

All of us with the Alliance for Maine Women know that access to the full range of health care is critical to a woman and her family’s personal and economic well-being.  One key strategy to promote physical and economic health is to expand access to dental health care.  Among other provisions, LD 860 provides comprehensive dental benefits for pregnant and postpartum women as well as dental services necessary to avoid more costly medical or dental care in the future.

The Alliance for Maine Women supports real solutions that help move Maine people out of poverty for good. Those solutions include investing in programs that ensure that children can learn when they begin school, and that adults can acquire the skills necessary to succeed in today’s economy.  We also support practical strategies that assist Mainers to be able to earn a living and support themselves and their families so that they can transition away from public assistance.  A budget that works for all Maine people by investing in proven programs is a critical tool to address poverty.

Finally, the Alliance for Maine Women will oppose any effort to undercut women’s access to health care, including contraception and abortion.  The decision whether to have children, and if so how many and how often, is the most fundamental factor affecting a woman’s economic status.

The Alliance for Maine Women is proud to join our voices together with those here with us today, and with those across Maine working to build a better future for women and their families.


Alliance for Maine Women Member Groups

AAUW of Maine – ACLU of Maine – Consumers for Affordable Health Care – EqualityMaine – Grandmothers for Reproductive Rights – League of Women Voters of Maine – Mabel Wadsworth Women’s Health Center – Maine Association of Family and Consumer Sciences – Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault – Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence – Maine Equal Justice Partners – Maine Family Planning – Maine People’s Alliance – Maine Women’s Lobby – National Council of Jewish Women – Southern Maine – New Ventures Maine – Planned Parenthood of Northern New England

Alliance for Maine Women Announces 2016 Priorities

The Alliance for Maine Women works to ensure that all Mainers have the economic, social, and political power to make decisions about their bodies, sexuality, health, and families – with an emphasis on securing these rights for Maine Women. The Maine Women’s Lobby is a proud partner of the Alliance and joined over 100 women and allies yesterday dressed in red for Maine Women’s Day at the State House as the Alliance announced its 2016 legislative priorities.

Gilda Nardone, Executive Director of New Ventures Maine, led the press conference announcing the Alliance for Maine Women’s support for bills that would improve the economic security of women and their families, provide greater access to a wide range of health care, give pregnant women more control over where to safely deliver their babies, and support a budget that works for all Maine people by investing in proven programs that help move people out of poverty.

On this 43rd anniversary of the decision in Roe v. Wade, MWL Executive Director Eliza Townsend’s remarks seem especially poignant: “The Alliance for Maine Women will oppose any effort to undercut women’s access to healthcare, including contraception and abortion. The decision whether to have children and, if so, how many and how often, is the most fundamental factor affecting a woman’s economic status.”

During the remainder of the day, activists gathered to be briefed on the priorities bills and hone their skills for affecting real change in their state and communities. If you’re interested in working on any of these issues, or others, please contact Molly at (207) 622-0851 x2 or mbogart@mainewomen.org.

Thank you to everyone who came out to make this year’s event such a success. As always, the Maine Women’s Lobby and the Alliance for Maine Women has your back in the halls of the State House.

Thanks for your support.

Alliance for Maine Women Member Organizations

AAUW of Maine – ACLU of Maine – Consumers for Affordable Health Care – EqualityMaine – Grandmothers for Reproductive Rights – League of Women Voters of Maine – Mabel Wadsworth Women’s Health Center – Maine Association of Family and Consumer Sciences – Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault – Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence – Maine Equal Justice Partners – Maine Family Planning – Maine People’s Alliance – Maine Women’s Lobby – National Council of Jewish Women – Southern Maine – New Ventures Maine – Planned Parenthood of Northern New England