AUGUSTA — All children should enter the world surrounded by love and grow up in beloved community. This will not happen as long as we favor the rights of some over those of others.

At the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence, we are profoundly disturbed by the Trump administration’s proposal to institute new restrictions on the use of Title X, the funding that provides family planning services for low-income people across the country. Should they go into effect, the proposals will have a devastating impact on the ability of women and others surviving domestic abuse to access comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care.

Make no mistake: Access to abortion is an issue for survivors of domestic abuse. The historically separate reproductive freedom and domestic violence movements have both been successful in raising awareness and access for people seeking help, information and person-centered, confidential environments in which to make tough decisions.

However, this specialization of services gives the impression that domestic abuse and reproductive freedom are unrelated.

This impression couldn’t be further from the truth. The idea that anyone else has dominion and decision-making power over our bodies lies at the core of both abuse and restrictions on reproductive freedom. Abusive people believe they have the right to make decisions about every facet of their partners’ lives, including their bodies.

This is the same type of belief fueling the idea that politicians have the right to make rules governing people’s decisions about when to get pregnant and whether or not to carry a pregnancy to term. These beliefs spring from a framework of patriarchy, heterosexism, racism, transphobia and other forms of oppression that seek to reinforce some people’s power and worth over others.


Abusive people frequently focus their coercive tactics on their partners’ sexuality and reproductive health because it so effectively allows them to control their partners’ lives. They poke holes in condoms, they flush birth control down the toilet, they lie about having had vasectomies. Given the reality that having a child will, in fact, bind people together for many years – if not forever – coercing one’s partner into a pregnancy is a powerful act of dominance.

At the same time, abusive people are often happy to exploit the cultural stigma that exists around abortion. They support their partners, even encourage them, to terminate a pregnancy – and then later use the knowledge of the procedure as a weapon, blackmailing and shaming them with it.

Either approach serves to further their agenda of exercising total control over their partner.

The ability, then, to determine when and if one becomes pregnant is central to survivors’ safety.

The ability to control whether or not to carry a pregnancy to term against the backdrop of a partner’s abuse is central to a survivor’s safety.

And the ability to connect survivors with health care that is domestic abuse-informed, trauma-responsive, nonjudgmental and affirming – as is the nature of the work done by our family planning colleagues in Maine – is central to survivors’ safety.


The proposals by the Trump administration put those options at risk, and we categorically reject them.

They will be devastating for family planning providers’ ability to do their work – that is, to offer comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care, including contraception, gender-affirming hormone therapy, cancer screenings and abortion, to all people, but most especially those who cannot afford it elsewhere.

We stand with our partners in Title X clinics and all family planning clinics, who are working to create a world where all people can live full, liberated and self-determined lives. Our goals are the same because there can be no liberation in the presence of coercion – whether that coercion is carried out by one’s partner, or by the state.


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