Women’s reproductive health has been a hot topic over the last few months, with the GOP’s attempts to repeal Obamacare and their semi-successful efforts at defunding Planned Parenthood across many states making major news. But one thing that is less openly spoken about is how these measures affect women — namely our reproductive health, which can include access to birth control pills, pap smears to help prevent cancer, IVF treatment, and, yes, even abortion services.
While many women still have access to basic medical health, if you live in the states of Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Wyoming, you may be getting subpar reproductive health care. That can be attributed, in part, to the fact that these seven states have only one legal clinic providing abortion and similar reproductive health services.
But why would access to abortion services have anything to do with reproductive health? According to the American Public Health Association, women who have to travel great distances in order to simply exercise their right to reproductive health care often have to travel 85 miles or more to access safe abortion services. These women may end up spending hundreds of dollars simply to access doctors who can provide medical information to them. It can also make the expert care provided by doctors unattainable for women who have to take a day off work to make the trip, or who would rely on hiring child care simply to see a doctor to fairly answer medical questions.
Speaking with Refinery29, Planned Parenthood’s James Owens said that it’s not just these seven states that make it difficult for women to access reproductive health. He admits, “There has been a concerted, nationwide effort to undermine a woman’s access to abortion for more than a decade.”
While reproductive health clinics may be lambasted for providing abortion services, often, these clinics also provide life-saving medical counseling, including what will happen if someone wants to put their child up for adoption, or drug addiction outreach.
In fact, education is a major piece for “abortion” providers like Planned Parenthood, who educate over 1.5 million people a year in sexual and reproductive health and stop over 500,000 unwanted pregnancies a year.
With the ACLU suing in Kentucky over the state’s unlawful attempt at closing its one and only abortion clinic, lawyers are both optimistic and outraged over the fact that doctors must sue for their right to provide basic care for women.
“We are pleased that the last abortion clinic in the commonwealth [of Kentucky] will remain open,” said senior staff attorney Brigitte Amiri, “but doctors shouldn’t have to go to court to ensure that they can continue to provide care for their patients.”
And, at the end of the day, doctors providing women’s reproductive health are interested in providing care to their patients above all else, something that anyone should hope for whether they want to refill a birth control prescription, or find out if they need to head to an IVF clinic in order to get pregnant.
Do you live in a state with limited women’s reproductive health clinics? Tell us @BritandCo!
(h/t Refinery29; photos via Getty)