VOICE: Pro-choice and Pro-life: Full reproductive rights for women

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In 1996, after graduating as a nurse practitioner in women’s health, I came home. Completing training and a first job at a women’s health clinic associated with Stanford University Hospital was an eye-opening experience. The big tours with Stanford Medical School visiting OB / GYN professors were heaven… so much to bring back to Kaua’i.

The shock that Planned Parenthood was gone. Volunteering with Dr Goodwin had highlighted the desperate need for good contraception, testing for STDs and medication, as well as the occasional woes associated with unplanned pregnancies. Most of them were not teenagers.

IUDs or injections for long-term contraception seemed to be quite limited. Just for those with insurance. Many women did not have one. Teens were afraid to use their parents’ insurance

No abortion services on Kaua’i. Failure to provide the comprehensive medical care women deserve. One choice, access to the full range of reproductive services, including the ability to terminate an unwanted, unmanageable and unplanned pregnancy. Pregnancy is often a time of increased abuse and domestic violence, especially those who use substances.

What had happened? Were the doctors afraid of upsetting the community? Their staff?

A medical, legal and safer-than-childbirth procedure now hidden as a dark secret, put out of the reach of those not rich enough to make it to O’ahu.

Who decides what is good for your body? Not the neighbors. No one is allowed in your room or body without your consent. Neither the insurance company, nor the medical establishment, nor the staff. Health privacy, under HIPAA, requires your permission to share information.

In a democracy, you choose where you live, what you will do when you grow up, who you can marry, what religion you will practice. It is the freedom of choice.

The First Amendment to the Constitution protects freedom of expression. Protecting a woman’s right to have a say in her health care is essential to her well-being and that of her family.

That’s why I’m completely pro-choice AND pro-life. It’s not my job to have an opinion, it’s my job to be a patient advocate. To make sure they have full disclosure before any consent.

Help women get ALL of the information about the three choices and the risks and side effects of each. Letting them choose frees them from my opinions. It also allows them to choose what works for them.

Women have often shared with me the complete change of mind from one job to another with INFORMED CONSENT, a legal requirement. Otherwise, it is professional misconduct if it is not fully aware of its rights and responsibilities in this area.

If I do my job well, I tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. And the truth is, all three choices are tough, tough, and have lifelong impacts.

Reproductive rights are contested across the country; more rights are stripped of women. Texas is only the first. Fortunately, Hawai’i has always been a leader in health care for women. But we must not take our freedoms and access for granted. While we sleep, the rights are stolen. We need to stay awake and aware and protect our community. Women are stronger when their rights are upheld. Strong women build strong families, strong communities, and strong economies.

Virginia Beck, IP Emeritus, IA, Kalaheo


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