On March 8, as part of our Eight That Can't Wait Discussion Series, the Women's Foundation hosted a conversation on gaps in reproductive health access in Oregon.
Count Her In found that hundreds of thousands of women and people* who can become pregnant in Oregon lack access to the information and services they need to decide if and when to have children. Income, race, zip code, gender identity, citizenship status, and many other factors influence access to reproductive information and services.
While public policies play an important role in addressing Oregon’s gaps in reproductive health access, each one of us can also make a difference. Watch our “Eight That Can’t Wait” Gaps in Reproductive Health Access Discussion, read our Gaps in Reproductive Health Access brief, and check out the resources below.
5 Things You Can Do to Address Gaps in Reproductive Health Access in Oregon:
- Talk to your kids. Research shows that kids do listen, and what parents say matters. Talk to your kids about healthy relationships, boundaries, and consent. Talk to them about birth control. Start early. It might seem uncomfortable at first, but age-appropriate information helps protect kids, and gives them the tools and information they need to make healthy choices. Resources: There's No Place Like Home...for Sex Education, Birds and Bees and Kids, Healthy Sex Talk: Teaching Kids Consent, Ages 1-21, Planned Parenthood Parenting Tips: A Tool for Talking About Sex (video series), Scarleteen
- Demand age-appropriate sex ed and sexual health services in schools. Having access to health information and tools empowers young people to make thoughtful, informed, safe decisions about what is best for them. Attend your local school board meetings and write letters to the editor of your local newspaper in support of sexual/reproductive health services in schools, as well as sex ed that is comprehensive, age-appropriate, evidence-based, medically accurate, culturally competent, and based in positive youth development. Resources: Advocates for Youth, Oregon Youth Sexual Health Plan: 5-Year Update, Oregon Department of Education Comprehensive Sexuality Education Advocacy Toolkit
- Shut down stigma. Stigma and shame around sex, sexuality, abortion, contraception, etc. interfere with sexual and reproductive health. Stigma also contributes to rape culture. Refuse to perpetuate stigma by understanding what’s harmful and choosing your words carefully. Resources: Human Sexuality is Complicated (video), Reproductive Justice Media Guide, How to Talk About Abortion (esp. pages 13-16), The Genderbread Person, How Slut Shaming Becomes Victim Blaming (video), Elizabeth Smart On Abstinence-Only Education: It Makes Rape Victims Feel ‘Filthy’, i believe you | it's not your fault, SlutWalk, Why You Should Stop Saying ‘Slut’ and What to Say Instead, The Abortion Diaries (video), We Testify
- Share your story. Have you ever experienced barriers to reproductive health? Sharing stories is one of the most powerful and effective ways to create change. Your story can help show Oregon's leaders why it's important to take action on gaps in reproductive health access and the other "Eight That Can't Wait” urgent issues facing Oregon's women and girls. Share your story with the Women’s Foundation.
- Learn more about the paradigm shift that is reproductive justice—a term created by women of color, which goes beyond reproductive health and rights to link sexuality, health, and human rights to social justice movements. The core principles of reproductive justice are that all people have the human right not only to determine if and when to have children, but also to raise children in safe and healthy environments, free from violence. Learn about the organizations working to advance reproductive equity in Oregon and beyond. Resources: ACLU of Oregon, All Above All, Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, Cascades Abortion Support Collective, The CAIR Project, Family Forward Oregon, Guttmacher Institute, Momentum Alliance, NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon, National Network of Abortion Funds, Network for Reproductive Options, Oregon Latino Health Coalition, Oregon Sexual Assault Task Force, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon, SisterSong, Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity (URGE), Western States Center
* It’s important to recognize that not all women have a uterus, and not everyone with a uterus is a woman. Trans and gender nonconforming Oregonians need access to reproductive health care, and can face additional barriers because of a health system not yet well equipped to serve them.
And many thanks to our wonderful panelists for sharing their time, talent, and expertise with us!
- Grayson Dempsey, Executive Director, NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon
- Mariotta Gary-Smith, Health Equity Strategist, Health Share of Oregon
- Angele Kirk, Health Center Manager, Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette
- Rachel Linz, Senior Research Analyst, Oregon Health Authority, Public Health Division, Reproductive Health Program