Listen to women.
This, I believe is the key to good health-care policy when it comes to birth, abortion, contraception. To anyone who will never be able to be pregnant or give birth, I challenge you to listen. One benefit of the tragic death of Dr George Tiller is that it inspired many women to tell their stories of abortion. Women are also telling their stories about birth. We will not be able to set good policy or provide good care until we learn from the stories of women.
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I have been encouraging everyone I know to share their helath care stories with their nationally elected representatives. I am greatful that great minds like midwife and anthropologist Melissa Cheyney are doing the work of collecting the stories of women to be a part of the shaping of health care policy.
Each women’s story will be unique. Cesarean birth may be life-saving and empowering for one women, and traumatic for another. The same is true of abortion. A contraceptive method which is perfect for one woman will cause annoying side effects in another. When we listen to and synthesize women’s stories, we see that empowering us to make the best choices for our own lives is the best foundation for health and well-being.
Throughout history, women’s truths have been devalued. The common ground in the debate about women’s reproductive health can only be found in the radical act of honoring the lived experience of women, and allowing policy decisions to reflect the reality of women’s lives. Personally, I beleive that the human dignity of a grown woman is worthy of more more respect than that of a fertilized egg. I know that a woman’s children almost certainly value her more than they would a zygote of a potential sibling. So let us listen to women. And women, let us share our stories. Let us educate eachother. Let us all be willing to learn.