We’ve worked hard to overcome divisive rhetoric being used by Governor LePage, his administration, and some legislators in Augusta to pit one group of Mainers against another. 29 Senators and 81 Representatives rose above the political posturing and voted to preserve General Assistance (GA) for asylum seekers and other immigrants who have made our state their home. Unfortunately, we didn’t get enough votes in the Maine House to override an expected veto. That doesn’t mean we won’t keep trying to convince our legislators from across the state to do the right thing, but we can’t count on them.

It’s time for the Portland City Council to lead and show the whole state that it can be done.

At least 900 of the people living in Portland who will be affected by these cuts have fled horrible violence, persecution, and the threat of death. It is unconscionable that our city would let them down now.

So much of what we’ve heard in halls of the Maine State House has been wrong. We know better than that in Portland. These are our neighbors. These men, women, and children are now an integral part of our community. Here in Portland we know the truth about these families and we must do what is right, and stand by and with these families.

Please contact our councilors before Wednesday night’s City Council meeting at 5:30 PM. Ask them to continue to provide vital support for immigrants.

No matter where you live in Portland, please contact all the ‘at large’ city councilors. You can also contact the councilor who represents your district. (Not sure of your district? Click here to look at a map to see which district you are in.)

At Large Councilors

Jill C. Duson , At Large, jduson@portlandmaine.gov
Jon Hinck, At Large, jhinck@portlandmaine.gov
Nicholas M. Mavodones, Jr., At Large,nmm@portlandmaine.gov

District Councilors

Kevin J. Donoghue, District 1,kjdonoghue@portlandmaine.gov
David A. Marshall, District 2, damarshall@portlandmaine.gov
Edward J. Suslovic, District 3, edsuslovic@portlandmaine.gov
Justin Costa, District 4, jcosta@portlandmaine.gov
David Brenerman, District 5, dbrenerman@portlandmaine.gov
When you contact the councilors, be sure to:
  • Urge them to continue to provide vital aid for immigrants. Portland can’t let nearly 1,000 people be put out on the streets without the ability to even feed themselves or their families.
  • Include the reasons you care about this issue.
  • Include your name and that you live in Portland.

You can also show your support at Wednesday’s City Council meeting. We will be gathering prior to the meeting at 4:45 PM on the steps of City Hall. The meeting begins at 5:30 PM.

Today’s editorial in the Portland Press Herald explains the issue and why Portland needs to act now: If state pulls General Assistance, Maine cities must help asylum seekers

We all know that this is the right thing to do. Here are more reasons we should preserve this aid for immigrants:
  • In light of the recent inaction by the Legislature to pass necessary language to protect GA for immigrants, the city must act to protect these Portland residents.
  • GA provides a bridge to stability for people fleeing violence and persecution while they are waiting 180 days for work permits from the federal government.
  • Some councilors have indicated that they would only support providing 3 months of transitional support. This does not provide a real solution to this problem. It will close the door to people seeking safety and refuge here, people who have much to offer our community. Providing 3 months of help simply postpones a crisis and a bad outcome. Instead let’s find a way to continue to support immigrants who have made Portland their home.
  • By investing in immigrants and making sure they have roofs over their heads and food to feed their families, we are making an investment in our future as well.
  • GA and other aid provided to immigrants goes directly into our local economy – helping to pay for housing and food.
  • A report “Making Maine Work,” published by the Maine Chamber of Commerce and the Maine Development Foundation, cites hiring more foreign born workers as one of the key strategies for increasing Maine’s workforce by 2020.

Thank you for taking action on this issue. So many lives are counting on our city councilors to do the right thing on Wednesday night.


UPDATE: Noon, 6/19/15: This bill received a 101-40 vote in the Maine House this morning. It is going back to the Maine Senate next. It is important that our Maine Senators still hear from us to know that Mainers want this inhumane and medically dangerous practice to end. 


Maine is the only state in New England that does not have a law banning the shackling of pregnant prisoners in our corrections system except in extraordinary circumstances. LD 1013 would fix that and end a practice that is both inhumane and medically dangerous. It’s important for our Senators and Representatives to hear from us so they know that Maine people stand with pregnant women.

Shackling pregnant prisoners is dangerous—it increases the risk of them falling and causing harm to their pregnancies. Shackling during labor and delivery is particularly cruel, and demonstrates an indifference to a woman’s medical needs. There have been no documented instances of a prisoner in labor or delivery escaping or causing harm to themselves, security personnel, or medical staff. It’s time for Maine to make sure our policies recognize the needs of all pregnant women.


Legislators will be voting on LD 1013 in the next 24 hours. Please take a few minutes right now to call your legislators and tell them that we should end this inhumane and medically dangerous practice.

Please contact your Maine Senator and Maine Representative and tell them to vote YES on LD 1013.

Maine Senators: 1-800-423-6900

Maine Representatives: 1-800-423-2900

When you leave a message, be sure to say:

  • Your name,
  • The town that you live in,
  • Your legislator’s name, and
  • A brief message. For example: “Please vote YES on LD 1013 and stop the practice of shackling pregnant inmates in our state. Shackling pregnant women is inhumane and medically dangerous.”

If you are not sure who your Maine Senator or Maine Representative is, you can look them up at http://1.usa.gov/1BUJWAi.


Thank you for taking action today!



As negotiations over the budget heat up, some politicians want to score political points by denying General Assistance (GA), food supplements (SNAP), and other support programs (TANF, SSI) for asylum seekers and other immigrants who have made Maine their home. This doesn’t represent the values of most Maine people. Immigrants who have settled here and made their homes here are now Mainers. What sets them apart is that they were not born here; but that is no reason to deny them emergency aid when they are struggling to meet their most basic needs.

Please take a few moments today to contact your legislators and ask them to continue to provide transitional support through GA for asylum seekers and other immigrants.  Ask them to oppose efforts to cut these programs whether it is in the budget or in stand-alone bills like LD 369.

Asylum seekers came to this country because they were fleeing dangerous conditions. They have already suffered unfathomable hardship. While they wait a minimum of 180 days for their work permits, GA provides asylum seekers with a bridge to stability—allowing them to put a roof over their heads and food on their tables. If politicians who just want to score political points by attacking the poor and immigrants have their way, over a thousand individuals and hundreds of families in Maine would become homeless and be unable to feed their families.

A crisis is a crisis no matter where you were born. GA should be available to everyone who needs it. Providing GA, as well as other supports to asylum seekers (TANF, SNAP and SSI), will account for less than 1% of the proposed biennial budget. This is a relatively small investment in Maine people and Maine’s economy that will pay back dividends in the future.

Tell your legislators that you care about all Maine people no matter where they were originally born. Call them today.

Maine Senators: 1-800-423-6900

Maine Representatives: 1-800-423-2900

When you call, say:
  • Your name;
  • The town that you live in;
  • Your legislator’s name; and
  • A brief message. For example: “I urge you to oppose any efforts to cut General Assistance and other aid programs for immigrants – whether in the budget or with bills like LD 369. Immigrants are Mainers, too. Please stand for all Maine families.

This toll-free answering service can take your message 24-hours a day. Call 1-800-423-6900 to leave a message for your Maine Senator, and call 1-800-423-2900 to leave a message for your Maine Representative now.

Not sure who your legislators are? You can look her/him up by entering your address at http://1.usa.gov/1BUJWAi. Then note your members of the Maine Senate and Maine House of Representatives.

You can learn more by watching this video: We Are Maine

Thank you for taking action on this important issue. We can’t afford to play politics with the lives of Maine families. 

The legal right to abortion is generally associated it with Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the two major cases concerning the constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy. Less well known, but equally important, is Griswold v. Connecticut, a case that made it all the way to the Supreme Court and resulted in the explicit protection by the Court of the access to contraceptives under the right to privacy. The Connecticut state law at issue banned the distribution and use of contraceptives. Estelle Griswold, executive director of the Planned Parenthood League of Connecticut, and a physician who operated a Planned Parenthood clinic, were both criminally prosecuted for violating this law when they provided a married woman with contraceptives.

This case laid the groundwork for future Supreme Court cases, such as Eisenstadt v. Baird and Carey v. Population Services International, which established that the right to access and use contraceptives falls within the fundamental right to reproductive autonomy.  In Justice Brennan’s opinion in Eisenstadt, he stated that, “if the right of privacy means anything, it is the right of the individual, married or single, to be free from unwarranted governmental intrusion into matters so fundamentally affecting a person as to the decisions whether to bear or beget a child.”

If it is passed in both chambers, LD 319, An Act to Strengthen the Economic Stability of Qualified Maine Citizens by Expanding Coverage of Reproductive Health Care and Family Services, will provide reproductive health care, including contraception, cancer screenings and STI testing to families whose income is at or below 209% of the federal poverty level. Ensuring that women living in poverty have the same access to birth control as their higher income counterparts is essential to enabling women to bring themselves out of poverty.

Women with access to birth control are more likely to attain not only higher educational achievement, but also access to higher-level careers and pay. The bill will prevent unintended pregnancy, support healthy birth spacing, reduce health disparities, and lower maternal morbidity. Conservative estimates find that LD 319 will reduce the number of unintended pregnancies in Maine by 320 the first year and 1,060 in three years with the number of abortions expected to fall by 350 in that same timeframe. LD 319 will also ensure that low-income adults have access to STD testing and treatment.

Sunday, June 7, 2015 marked the 50th anniversary of Griswold v. Connecticut, and despite the accomplishments that have been achieved, much work remains to be done in order to guarantee women the rights they deserve. LD 319 symbolizes one such milestone, and if passed, will guarantee greater access to family planning, and consequently healthier women, healthier families, a healthier workforce, and a healthier Maine.



Written by Eliza Mette, the 2015 Linda Smith Dyer Fellow for the Maine Women’s Policy Center.

When we launched the Right Now campaign to raise $20,000 before the Legislature adjourns to increase our capacity and engage more Maine women & girls in the fight for our rights, we didn’t know what to expect. But thanks to the generosity of our members like you, we’re more than halfway there!

Can you help us reach our goal? By engaging more women across the state on the issues that matter most in their own lives, we will amplify our power for change at the state house and beyond.

Make a donation to the Right Now campaign today by giving online at bit.ly/mwlRightNow

Right Now Invite


Week after week we’re in the halls of the state house to stand against threats to our rights and advocate for a better Maine. When you give to the Right Now campaign, you help educate and empower women across our whole state so that together we make a future where all women and girls can live our lives free from violence and discrimination, with access to health care and real economic security.


It’s exciting to see the response to this effort because we know that we can’t improve the social, economic, and political status of Maine’s women & girls all by ourselves—we can only make real change when we join our voices together. Thank you!