Raising Our Voices for the Health Care We Need

Readers: We want you to share your story! In partnership with Raising
Women’s Voices, an advocacy organization working on behalf of women’s health
care reform, RH Reality Check is collecting real life stories that
reflect how the health care system has impacted real women’s lives. We
want to hear from you! Share your stories in the comments section of
this post and we hope you’ll allow RWV to contact you should they wish
to use your story in their advocacy efforts. By commenting, you are
giving permission to be contacted by RWV.

Pregnancy. Birth control. Aging. Disability. Cancer. Sexuality

There are many arenas in which health care is essential to
our lives. These are, of course, policy issues. The bills and acts that come
before Congress on health care issues are directly connected with women’s
lives. You see a lot of policy analysis on RH Reality Check precisely because
policies affect whether we can get the care we need when and how we need it.

As important as policy analysis, however, are the stories
of real women and their families that demonstrate why we need to ensure that
everyone has access to quality, affordable healthcare. These voices are
critical to the work of Raising Women’s
Voices for the Healthcare We Need
, a partnership
between the Avery Institute for Social Change, The MergerWatch Project and The
National Women’s Health Network. Our policy analyses are based on the
stories of diverse groups of women, and are stronger and deeper as a result.

Now RWV is partnering with RH Reality Check to raise your
voices. We offer you this space to tell us about your experiences of healthcare.
Tell us the good, the bad and the ugly. We depend on you. Your stories have and
will continue to enrich our advocacy efforts.

The Question: We have heard for weeks about Sarah Palin’s
exceptional delivery of her son Trig
. As a governor of Alaska, Palin had access
to comprehensive health care and many resources and options about how to handle
her pregnancy and childbirth. Before, during and after the birth of her son she
received medical care and attention that met her diverse needs. Have you all
had similar pregnancy and childbirth experiences? Or have you encountered
obstacles? What were those obstacles? Could you choose your provider, and type
of care? Were you able to take maternity when and how you needed? Tell us. We
have a suspicion that there are many different types of stories out there and we
think policy makers should hear them.

Here are some stories RWV has already gathered.

A woman from Texas recalls
her son’s birth:

When I had my son – I had him in Houston – my doctor
was a female but had been trained by a very male dominated organization. I had
a doctor’s appointment because my son was late, he didn’t want to
come out. I had a doctor’s appointment on my due date and she said, "You
have an appointment for an induction tomorrow." I said, "No, I don’t."
And she said, "Yes. You do." … She said this despite the
reccomentdation of her own academy that said inductions were to occurr two
weeks after the due date. No one told me [about my appointment], no one got my
permission to schedule it. I went to the doctor and told her that if she wasn’t
going to do it my way that I was going to find someone else to do it… I
got told that it was HER responsibility to make sure my child came out okay.
And I explained to her that it wasn’t her responsibility, he was my
responsibility. And that I had spent more time with the nurses than I had with
my own doctor… The problem was that I knew she dealt with a lot of low
income women, I wasn’t exactly high income, but it was the perception
that we’re not educated enough to understand what’s going on with
us, so we shold just do what the doctors say. And I think there’s a
really big misperception that low income people have no idea about their
choices and what rights they have. I think sometimes they just get walked over.

A young graduate student tells her story:

I wanted a
midwife or a doula for a homebirth. A homebirth nurse was covered by my
insurance but not a midwife, and was only covered with a doctor’s
permission. My insurance provider didn’t know what a doula was! I was so
frustrated. I wanted the nurse I knew and wanted, not one that was randomly
assigned to me. And I needed to ask just the right questions to get the
information I needed. The process was so confusing and I didn’t receive
all by birthing options up front. The options that were told to me were always
the ones that made the hospitals some money. Eventually, I wound up going to a
birthing center and having a doula, which I payed for myself. This was not my
ideal option but was the closest I could get to what I wanted.

Let’s raise women’s voices for the health care
we need. Share your stories – short or long in the comment section. We want to hear from you! While this week our post focuses on pregnancy and childbirth stories, we welcome any health care stories you want to share.

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

For more information or to schedule an interview with contact press@rhrealitycheck.org.

Follow Eesha Pandit on twitter: @EeshaP

  • invalid-0

    The haunting cold steely eyes of the abortion dr. will never leave me. He had no compassion, no life in them. The nurses were the same way, their hard hearts were worn on thier faces. I knew I was over the 12 week limit for the suction method. I told the staff and they said it was the law. I knew that I would not go through with the next phase procedure that was offered so I when I refused after they tried to convince me, they overruled their initial assement, with out rechecking and went through with it. It was the most painful and horrible experience I have ever had.
    I was instantly broken hearted really, it felt like some one had shot a hole in my heart. ( I did). The void in my life that was caused by my careless and selfish decision has never left. I know there are millions of women and men also, who have felt betrayed by the men and woman who pushed for abortion to be made legal.
    As a 16 year old, I had careless sex because I knew that if I did get pregnant, I could fix it. I can honestly say that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that if abortion had not been legal, I would not have had sex before marriage.
    Now, 30 years later, many of my friends have beautiful grandchildren and I will never know the joy. My abortion left me unable to have children. Abortions suck the life out of you!

  • invalid-0

    As a college student, I had an abortion in 1972 at the age 17. It cost $400 and my boyfriend and I had to borrow some of the money from a friend to pay for it. We paid him back ASAP with money earned from our minimum wage part-time jobs. It was easy to get an abortion, even in 1972. And while we had to borrow some of the money, it was still very do-able.

    We knew about condoms and birth-control pills. Everyone did. And that was in the days when there were absolutely no sex-ed classes. But we thought getting pregnant just couldn’t happen to us, like a lot of young people think, even today. So we didn’t use them.

    Since that time millions upon millions of dollars and hours upon hours have been spent on sex-education and programs to prevent pregnancy, AIDS, STDs, etc etc.

    But no matter how much money is spent, no matter how much information is available, the issue will always come down to, as it did for my boyfriend (now my husband of 33 years) and myself in 1972… self-centeredness, a lack of respect for our sexuality, and selfish unconcern for what sex can produce. A child.