I came across this post yesterday on the Global Health Magazine Blog. It’s from Planned Parenthood, about work they’re doing to improve contraceptive use among indigenous youth in Ecuador. Trained rural, indigenous youth are (are you ready for this?) providing Depo Provera (a birth control shot) outside clinic walls, in the community, to other youth.
At first I was like, “say wha?” but then I realized it’s ingenious.
Do you remember how hard it was to first get your hands on pills or condoms when you were a youth (or if you still are)? Well then multiply this by the fact of being in a particularly conservative society where youth and sexual health and rights just aren’t ever in the same sentence. Then add to that the fact that indigenous communities are notoriously underserved and health literacy is often really low. The young people getting new contraceptive access with this very cool program simply wouldn’t be getting it otherwise. Access: success!!
I love the idea of giving the power to the people by moving reproductive health services outside clinic walls. I think that model perfectly embodies what reproductive justice is about: letting each individual reclaim the rights and agency to his/her body.
This is what is so cool about community-based models of reproductive health work. It’s a simple but radical approach to realizing reproductive rights: train and empower the individuals who most need the services to offer them themselves. I actually wish someone would show up at my apartment door right now with a NuvaRing. Alas!
One thing that is so suffocating about reproductive health care in the U.S. is how medicalized and bureaucratic everything is. If you need a simple pack of pills, you have to schedule a $300 appointment with a provider just for them to hand over a prescription, that you’ll end up waiting an hour in line at Duane Reade to fill. Argh.
The model that Planned Parenthood is using is definitely not something that would fly in the U.S., but perhaps it’s something we can aspire to. When/if the public option becomes a reality option, maybe then we can think even bigger about how reproductive health services can be even more accessible.