Amplifying the power in HER voice because today’s woman is #BeyondCapable

Amplifying the power in HER voice because today’s woman is #BeyondCapable
Health Watch

Checking up on Women’s Health in America

How women in the United States can stay health in spite of the troubling developments on the subject.

When you start your day as a woman of the United States; you may glance at the news and find that this country is once again looking less like the “land of the free.”

It’s more “the home of the brave” perhaps because that’s what you have to be at the face of detrimental changes. You may see that more of your options for healthcare have been taken away. Maybe your access to contraception has also been limited further. Or maybe another state has joined the many attempts to ban abortion—doing so while the public sector falls short in providing ample support for mothers-to-be.

This is where we are at. Currently, a woman’s right to health is under attack. Your body is catching the strays of a culture war that has been going on for years. In 2022, the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Thanks to conservative lobbying, the 1973 decision which decriminalized abortion nationwide was struck down and, since then, multiple factions in government have been moving to limit what women can do with their bodies.

But while that “star-spangled banner yet waves,” you can be more than just brave. You can be informed, proactive and vigilant. You can advocate for yourself if elected officials won’t advocate for you and you can wake up healthy to an America that you want.

But first, you have to where to start. And that comes with finding the right place to work on your health.

Finding a women’s health clinic that offers care and convenience

This year and the years to come, women’s health rights and access to quality care will be more important than ever. This is why it’s crucial to find a woman’s health clinic that is right for you.

You can begin by getting information. Do some research online or ask local women’s groups for recommendations on compassionate and reliable clinics in your area. Look for places that offer services like the following:

•         Comprehensive reproductive healthcare including birth control options and testing for sexually transmitted infections (STI)

•         Pregnancy testing, counseling, and prenatal care

•         Cervical cancer screenings like Pap smears

•         Breast exams and mammogram referrals

•         General wellness care and checkups

Once you have some options, visit their websites to learn more about the services, doctors, and philosophies of each clinic. See if they accept your insurance. Get a gauge of how good their record is. And, see if they offer a service that was highlighted in recent years: telehealth. 2019 and the years that followed that informed us exactly why this matters.

 These days, telehealth appointments are more accessible than ever. When it comes to women’s health services, such options can be a convenient choice. This is especially true since they free up time one may spend making ends meet or attending to other personal matters. With video chatting or conversations over the phone, you can connect directly with doctors and other healthcare professionals without leaving home.

For convenient access to birth control consultations and STI testing, you can consider telehealth services provided by Planned Parenthood and linking that up with your current healthcare provider.

You can review different contraceptive choices with a doctor, get a prescription, and have it shipped directly to your door. For STI testing, an at-home test kit will be mailed to you. After you provide a saliva or blood sample, you can mail it back for diagnosis and treatment recommendations.

Expecting mothers can benefit from telehealth prenatal care. Virtual consultations allow you to check in on your pregnancy, listen to the baby’s heartbeat, and ask any questions about symptoms or concerns from the comfort of your home. Postnatal care, like lactation support or postpartum depression screening, can also be done remotely via video chat.

Telehealth services can also provide convenient care for conditions related to aging like menopause. Hormone therapy prescriptions and consultations can be handled remotely as well.

For general women’s health questions or annual wellness exams, a telehealth consultation with your doctor is an easy option. They can review your medical history, discuss any health concerns, and determine if blood tests or in-person follow-ups are needed.

Telehealth helps provide women greater flexibility and convenience in managing their health. While not all care can be provided virtually, openness to this form of service is a useful supplement for a healthcare provider to have.

Call a few places to see if this is something they offer. And while you’re at it, get a feel for how helpful and willing they are to answer your questions over the phone. Let them know you’re looking for a clinic focused on women’s health, rights, and empowerment.

It also helps to look for reviews from other women to determine an establishment’s overall quality and bedside manners. While no place will be perfect, look for mostly positive reviews mentioning things that matter. For example, did the doctors and staff treat them with respect? Did they feel empowered and involved in health decisions? Did the providers take the time to answer questions and address concerns? Are their wait times reasonable? Are they flexible with their appointments and scheduling?

Finding reviews that answer these questions can help a great deal in you making an informed decision. A good clinic should make you feel at ease and give you confidence in your care. Don’t settle for one where you feel rushed, judged, or unheard.

This is important especially since a woman’s health can deal with more delicate matters—like birth control and abortion.

Getting access to birth control

Women have more birth control options than ever before, from the pill to implants to IUDs. However, some states have made it more difficult to access certain methods. Do your research on the full range of contraceptives immediately available to you so you can choose what’s right for your needs and situation. Talk to your doctor about the pros, cons, and availability of different birth control methods in your area.

Unfortunately, some contraceptives, like the morning-after pill, may be harder to get in some places. Consider speaking to your doctor about obtaining an extra supply in case of emergencies. You should also think about backup options, like barrier methods, that you can use if your preferred method becomes unavailable. Prepare and plan so you have choices if you need them.

You must also know your rights on the matter. Despite some legal setbacks, women still have certain rights to birth control and reproductive healthcare. Federal laws protect your ability to access birth control for medical reasons, even if some states have limited access to contraceptive measures. You also have the right to appeal if your insurance denies you coverage for birth control.

If birth control access is limited where you live, don’t stay silent. Remember that you are in a democracy and elected officials respond to numbers. If you do not stand up to be counted, you are enabling those who might be moving against your interests.

Contact your political representatives and urge them to support contraceptive access and women’s reproductive rights. You can also support organizations fighting for these rights through donations, volunteering, and spreading awareness on social media. Grassroots movements have created positive change in the past—this is literally how women’s rights have progressed over the years.

In your attempt to move though, you should also safeguard your private medical data. Some companies and governments have access to details about women’s sexual and reproductive health. Be cautious of period-tracking apps, at-home DNA tests, and other services asking for sensitive information. Only provide data to reputable organizations you trust. Consider using pseudonyms, two-factor authentication, and encryption tools when possible. Your personal information is powerful, so keep it as private as you can.

Finally, prioritize your health with routine checkups. Get recommended cancer screenings like Pap smears and mammograms. See your doctor for STI testing and treatment. And monitor your menstrual cycle for any abnormal changes. While health care can be expensive, many clinics offer women’s health services at little or no cost. It gets a little trickier though when this deals with the subject of abortion.

Understand the changes to abortion laws and access

Abortion rights in the U.S. hang in the balance. Several states have passed laws banning abortion after 6 weeks of pregnancy, with some attempting to ban it altogether. These new restrictions threaten abortion access for millions of women.

Check with local organizations to know the specific laws in your area. Some states still allow abortion up until viability, around 24 weeks, while others have banned it after 6 weeks.

If you’re considering an abortion, planning ahead is critical. Waiting periods, clinic closures, and a lack of providers can delay the procedure. So, seek counseling and schedule an appointment as early as possible. Have a plan for out-of-state travel if needed.

Women’s health rights are under attack, so make your voice heard. Contact your political representatives and vote for candidates who support abortion access. Support organizations fighting for reproductive justice. Talk to others about these issues and encourage civic participation.

Collective action can make a difference. While the future of abortion in America remains unclear, women still have the power to shape policy and protect their health and rights. Through education, preparation, and activism, women can work to overcome barriers and advance choice and empowerment. Together, we are beyond capable. This is the same in other aspects of health.

Home of the brave? Let’s prove it.

While women have come a long way in achieving equal rights, disparities still exist within healthcare sector nationwide.

Studies show that women’s symptoms are more likely to be misdiagnosed or dismissed by doctors. Women also face higher healthcare costs and longer wait times. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of them die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth each year, with developing countries hit hardest. The lack of access to prenatal care, limited access to birth control, and restrictive abortion laws all contribute to this ongoing crisis.

But this doesn’t have to stay this way.

Once upon a time, women in the United States couldn’t vote; they couldn’t own property and they lack spaces to be nurtured and feel safe. But this all changed. On July 13, 1848, activist Jane Hunt hosted a small tea party at Waterloo, New York State where she and the four other guests discussed the limitations women faced in society. This then led to the five women organizing the first women’s rights convention set for Seneca Falls, New York. This eventually snowballed to a movement which won the many rights women enjoy today.

These women have much less than what we have now. They didn’t have the networking capacity we do or the resources we have. But they did have the desire for change. They also had to resolve to fight for that change. And that something that today’s women can use to lobby for better health care, push for better leaders, support more progressive policies and make a country that lives up to the title “the land of the free.”

There is some virtue to it but we can’t just be content in America being the “home of the brave”—not if we care for our health and the health of future generations.

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Women’s Health Rights in 2024 FAQs

This mid-year, you may have some questions about your health rights and how best to advocate for yourself. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions we get at HerPWR.

What happened with Roe v. Wade?

In 2022, Roe v. Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court, removing federal protections for abortion rights. However, many states have since passed laws protecting reproductive health rights. Check with your local representatives to understand the laws in your area. Some states have adopted “trigger laws” banning abortion if Roe v. Wade falls, so stay up to date on the latest in your state.

How can I access birth control?

Fortunately, most forms of contraception, like birth control pills, IUDs, and condoms, are still available and affordable under the Affordable Care Act. Some states have made contraception more difficult to obtain, so you may need to jump through extra hoops. Don’t lose hope—there are women’s health organizations working to expand access in all areas.

What about prenatal and maternity care?

While some states have passed laws restricting certain types of care, prenatal and maternity care are still widely available. However, costs and coverage can vary significantly based on where you live and your health insurance. If costs are prohibitive, look into state health programs, non-profits, and crowdfunding campaigns that may be able to help. Your health and your baby’s health should be the top priorities.

How can I advocate for change?

The best way to create change is to make your voice heard. Contact your political representatives, sign petitions, join local women’s organizations, and vote in all elections to elect candidates who will protect women’s health rights. Talk to others about these important issues. Together, we have the power to influence laws and policies in our state and beyond. Every action makes a difference in creating a better future for women’s health.

The state of women’s health rights is complex, but by staying informed and taking action, you can help shape a world where all women have access to the healthcare they deserve. Let’s keep fighting the good fight.

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