Katherine Coonce and Keirstin Harkleroad
The issues within society focused on women’s reproductive health and rights are widespread. As the government continues to allow men to make and pass laws over women’s bodies, the politics around this epidemic are heating up. Opinions and solutions are at an all-time high as states are splitting off and creating their own legislation over women’s bodies. Reproductive rights are currently being threatened at a national level. State laws are fluctuating under the Trump administration, including the laws in Nebraska. This study examines the current standings of women’s reproductive health and rights in Omaha. Through examining existing studies in addition to investigating the local women’s care centers data for this study has been compiled. Taking away resources can be extremely damaging to women’s health and can place them in unwanted situations. This study is going to examine the current access to reproductive healthcare in Omaha using phone calls and website comparisons to see the consistency of this resource.
Following the primary research on all of these topics within the women’s health and rights community, birth control access and regulation interested us. It was decided to contact five local clinics in Omaha Nebraska to collect secondary research though phone calls and website evaluations. After contacting all of the clinics, responses were first collected from the Question “What are the steps to acquire a birth control prescription at your clinic?” These responses were not only audio recorded but also were transcribed into a coding table. The coding table went through many phases of editing and eventually was combined with online findings, interpretations of the media, and the transcripts from the phone call to create the following four themes.
This reasearch started with Assure Women’s Care, over the phone and online they advertized free pregnancy testing, ultrasound, information about abortion and adoption, and STD testing for two types of diseases. The next clinic in Omaha that was contacted and evaluated was Planned Parenthood. At this clinic, according to the website, they offer annual exams, birth control, morning-after pill, breast exam, fertility awareness education, trans-hormone therapy, pap tests, pregnancy testing, options counseling, HIV testing, HIV education, HIV referral, testing and treatment for STDs, STIs, UTIs, vaginal infections and bladder infections. When this location was called and asked about how to acquire a birth control prescription they explained that the patient must be seen in person, and if under 21 a physical exam including height weight and vitals are required before the consult, and if over 21 pap smear or pelvic exam is required. Following this, two different Essential Pregnancy Services were contacted. Online the clinic advertised pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, chlamydia and gonorrhea testing, and baby shops. While they don’t offer birth control, over the phone, they said that they offer free ultrasounds through the first two trimesters of pregnancy. Next One World Community Health Services were contacted who offered the most amount of services out of every clinic in the study. This clinic offers adult medicine, behavioral health, dental, LGBTQIA+ support, access to a learning community, education enrollment, patient-centered medical home treatment, pediatrics, pharmacy, prenatal, school-based health, teen and young adult health, WIC, and women’s health. As well as women’s health annual wellness exams, pelvic exams, pallets/ cervical cancer screenings, breast exams, reproductive health, std testing, menopause care, prenatal care. Bellevue Health Clinic explained over the phone, that they offer birth control after consultation as well and without a physical exam. In the clinic they also offer routine physical exams, pap smears, pelvic exams, breast care screenings, counseling, infertility diagnosis, hormonal replacement therapy, ultrasound, prenatal testing, education for health care needs, teen gynecological care, menstrual disorder help, and menopause care.
Following examining the services provided at each clinic, the level of consistency was evaluated comparing the information that was received over the phone and the information provided on the website. The two Assure’s clinic locations appeared to be extremely kind and competent about the services they do offer and do so with care. The phone call provided a great amount of information was was extremely helpful. In addition the website provide a clean and clear way to access the needed information. Planned Parenthoods, website appeared very kind and compassionate along with knowledge about all of the offered services, however, on the phone, they came off as rude and snappy and consistently asked personal questions that were not necessary or relevant to the information the study was trying to receive. With this answer, it was very clear they do not support abortions in addition to the website information and continued to talk about the pregnancy services they offer. Essential Pregnancy Services provided a website that in a round-about-way explained that this clinic does not support abotions. When a phone call was placed asking quesions about birthcontrol and abortions, these questions were answered with other information pointing in the direction of services that were not asked about. While this clinic is consistent, it does show a major bias in beliefs. One World Community Health Services were very kind over the phone in explaining that in order to get a prescription for birth control you will need to make an in-person appointment however, no further exam will be required to get the prescription just a consult. On the website the same information is provided with kind and caring messages around the information. Bellevue Health Clinic were very kind over the phone however the clinic still came off a bit dismissive to my questions. Online, their website is a bit confusing and hard to navigate in order to find the information you needed. Finally, the study examined Charles Drew Health Centers, out of all of the phone calls made for this study this was the most uncomfortable. A man answered the phone and seemed to have little knowledge of questions that were asked. This alone was shocking but the content of his response was demeaning and rude, and essentially was extremely unhelpful considering he was trying to answer questions about women’s bodies without the experiences. The website was confusing and the services they offer are still unclear. Over the phone, the man stated that while they do not offer birth control, they do offer contracelptive information and sex education.
Next the study looked at the websites tone and image. Assure Women’s Care online advertising to appeals to women in need of help, however their website shows images of women who seem to be completely fine and are in need of no assistance. This was also slightly off-putting considering they were all white, middle-aged, middle-class women who in some cases are photographed dancing or saying inspirational quotes. Planned Parenthoods website was designed to appeal to all ages of women, who are looking for help and are unable to pay for the services they need. They appear very organized, informative, and helpful providing their website with lots of charts and photos to help those in need. On the website of Essential Pregnancy Services they appeared to be inclusive to multiple races and showed women on color as well as an option to view the website in different languages. Similar to this clinic Bellevue Health Clinic also offered multiple languages and seem very accepting of anyone who is in need of care. On One World Community Health Services website they are extremely kind and knowledgeable and also had multiple bilingual doctors to assess a larger community advertised. Finally Charles Drew Health Center, the website was extremely confusing and not user friendly and the clinic seems to not display the services they offer in a visible fashion.
The one thing that all of these clinics have in common is the target audience that they attempt to appeal too. All of these clinics appeal to individuals that are of the age to need access to womens care. The clinics all advertised an open and welcoming door to women in need whether it’s due to pregnancy, disease or anything else. Overall, after conducting this study it can be seen that the main goal of these clinics is to provide women with access to healthcare and resources, even though they don’t all have the best means.
The initial research into scholarly articles allowed for an in-depth look at the current healthcare and rights in not only Omaha but nationally.. In the U.S., it was found that sex education is generally not effective. Around 1 billion dollars have been spent teaching teens abstinence-only education. Abstinence-only education generally teaches that sex outside of marriage has harmful psychological and physical effects. This has the potential to ruin teens’ lives as sex strictly inside a marriage is not practical. Ifmarriage was the only place sex existed, most of the contacted resources would probably not exist. Not only is this curriculum increasing the number of teen pregnancies with its uninformative lessons, but it is also very false (Schwarz, 2007). “The Waxman Report found that over eighty percent of the curricula (about abstinence-only education) contained false, misleading or distorted information about reproductive health” (Schwarz, 2007). The same people who support abstinence-only education generally also disapprove of abortion. This is ironic because about 25% of all teen pregnancies end in abortion (Schwarz, 2007). Clearly better sex education is needed in schools, but unfortunately, this is a state issue as states make the sex education laws. Nebraska has an abstinence-only program in place, but the final curriculum is based on the school district. Clearly, however, change needs to happen.
On the topic of sex education, typically teens are not informed about STDs and STIs, especially in abstinence-only communities. This is especially true with the lack of LGBTQ+ sex education because when STD prevention is discussed, it is usually surrounding straight sex only (Schwarz, 2007). Sexual orientation is not the only separator when it comes to sexual healthcare. Black individuals, compared to whites, are less likely to report their STDs (Robinson, Narasimhan, Amin, Morse, Beres, Yeh, Kennedy, 2017). On some of the studied websites, white women seemed to be the targeted audience. Few women of color were shown in particular sites. Separation of access to healthcare is largely due to of segregation in cities. This statistic about a difference in reports based on race is frightening because the average lifespan of an individual living with HIV AIDS is 65 years (Grindlay, Grossman, 2016). The lifespan of someone living with AIDS is noticeably lower than the average lifespan of those living without HIV AIDS. Clearly testing resources need to be accessible. A shortened life span is not the only repercussion of not being tested, however. Patients who skip follow-up treatments are 2x’s more likely to die from the disease they are living with than those who do receive treatment (Houston & Osborn, 2015). We did find several places that test for STDs, fortunately. Assure Women’s CEnter tests for just two types of STDs and only if you are pregnant. Planned Parenthood tests for STDs for anyone, and they also seemed to be the most ‘truthful’ site available. Essential Pregnancy Services and One World Community Health Services offer STD testing as well. While it is great that these places offer these services, not all are aware of the services or are informed about STDs in general. All of this would be less of a problem if comprehensive sex education was required and if health care was more accessible.
Access to Health Care
Access to health care can be a huge problem in the United States especially with a large gap between the rich and the poor. Affordable healthcare can become essentially nonexistent for those in need. This is also true when it comes to sexual health care. The age group that has the lowest access to healthcare is people from 18-25. These people also have the highest rate of sexual issues (Advances in the…, 2011). With the lack of sex education, these people are more at risk. None of our contacted resources decided to disclose financial information, but based on previous knowledge most assume Planned Parenthood as a viable option. With more people unknowingly contracting STDs such as HIV AIDSs, these diseases continue spreading. In addition to the spreading of these diseases, poor advice is often given. Those who have been given proper sex education know that HIV can be spread through the birthing process and through breast milk, yet those with HIV aren’t discouraged from these things (Grindlay & Grossman, 2016).
Examining what sexual options are available is crucial for health, and stopping the spread of STDs. Young individuals are at risk, and lives can be changed forever just because of misinformation. Finding out what the intentions of sources are is imperative to getting the best care. All components are key, however, nothing seems to be as important as informative sex education.
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