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Amplifying Women’s Health Awareness – Navigating Today’s Realities

On May 2, 2022, the nation was shaken by a leaked draft indicating the potential overturning of Roe vs. Wade, the foundation of reproductive rights in the United States. The revelation sent shockwaves across the nation, igniting outrage, protests, and an unyielding determination to safeguard the rights of women everywhere. Reflecting on that pivotal day, I distinctly remember the sinking feeling in my stomach as I envisioned the worst possible outcome. It was a moment when the significance of Roe vs. Wade felt more tangible than ever before.

Reproductive health has long been a hot issue, particularly in recent years, amidst the political climate in the United States. However, that May Day felt markedly different, as if women’s rights were under direct threat. The fact that it was in writing was a chilling sense of reality, dispelling any notion that it was merely political rhetoric or the chants of pro-life demonstrators. Health care for women in the United States, as we knew it, would not be the same.

History of Roe vs. Wade

For some background, let’s dive into one of the most pivotal moments in United States legal history: Roe v. Wade. Cast your minds back to January 22, 1973. This case shook the nation by affirming a woman’s right to choose abortion as a fundamental aspect of her autonomy. The story unfolds in Texas, where a brave woman named Norma McCorvey, adopting the pseudonym “Jane Roe,” took a stand against the state’s strict abortion laws. Authored by Justice Harry Blackmun, the Supreme Court’s decision was a turning point in United States history. The passing of Roe vs. Wade concluded that a woman’s privacy includes her right to make choices about her body, including whether to terminate a pregnancy.

Roe vs. Wade Overturned

Fast forward to June 24, 2022, when the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade. In the wake of this landmark ruling, states promptly began introducing their own legislation, further polarizing the issue and setting the stage for a fierce battle over the future of women’s rights in the United States. Basically, the overturning of Roe vs. Wade allowed each state the freedom to make abortion illegal, which is exactly what happened. The states now could establish their own laws on abortions. Abortion is currently banned in 14 states, and seven restrict the procedure earlier in pregnancy than the standard set by Roe vs. Wade. For more details on the specifics for each state, check out the map on Planned Parenthood’s Action Fund’s website, which can be filtered by state to show the status of abortion access and laws in each state.


So, what does all this talk about Roe vs. Wade being overturned have to do with Women’s Health Awareness? Everything. Access to safe and legal abortion is not just a matter of reproductive rights; it’s also a crucial aspect of women’s health. When women are denied access to safe abortion services, they are often forced to seek unsafe alternatives, putting their health and lives at risk. In addition, some women are forced to jump through hoops to seek abortion care if their home state has restrictions.

This reality hits close to home for one of our contracted providers, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, which operates four clinics in the Colorado Access Regional Accountable Entity (RAE) regions. As their assigned practice support contact for the past few years, I’ve learned about their response to the overturning of Roe vs. Wade. Nearby states like Utah, Texas, Nebraska, and Arizona have imposed stringent restrictions on abortion care, leading women from those areas to seek safe abortions in states like Colorado.

While traveling to Colorado may seem feasible for some, it presents significant financial barriers for others. Women must not only cover travel expenses but also consider lodging and food costs. Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains endeavors to alleviate these financial burdens by assisting with fees, but the surge in demand necessitates increased donations. This underscores how the option to access abortion care in legal states like Colorado is no longer a given, as it was when Roe vs. Wade protected women’s rights.

What Comes Next

While access to abortion is undoubtedly a critical aspect of women’s health, it’s essential to acknowledge that it represents just one layer of the multifaceted landscape of women’s health care. In this context, May is designated as National Women’s Health Awareness Month, aiming to empower women to prioritize their health and equip them with the knowledge to support others on their health journeys.

Through the collective efforts of individuals and health care professionals, every woman can strive toward a healthy and fulfilling life. The history of Roe vs. Wade is just one example of those efforts. However, women’s health can be accessible in other venues, such as by scheduling annual well visits, which most providers in our network perform regularly. At the well visit, women can get a full check-up focusing on preventive care, such as vaccines, physical examinations, screenings, education, and goal setting.

Significance to Me

One Colorado Access value-based payment model, particularly our reproductive health value-based payment model, went live in July 2022. It allows women’s health providers to be measured and incentivized on depression screenings, contraceptive counseling, and contraceptive care – for postpartum women. While the list of women’s health measures could be expanded, the three included in the model allow our women’s health providers to prioritize preventive care for women and support them with their health and well-being. I have the privilege of working with some women’s health providers in our network on those measures, and it feels like a full-circle moment.

I began my public health career by working at a city health department, Columbus Public Health, specifically in their maternal child health division, where I assisted with their Fetal Infant Mortality Review (FIMR) program. FIMR is a research-based process aimed at reviewing fetal and infant deaths, developing programs, and shaping policies to enhance pregnancy and birth outcomes. Later, I transitioned to Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio for a few years. Interestingly, I continue to be engaged with Planned Parenthood through my current role at Colorado Access, where I collaborate with Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. Although I’m no longer directly involved in frontline care, I now work behind the scenes, partnering with Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains on performance measures and various initiatives to advocate for and improve our members’ health and well-being, particularly those who identify as women.

Coming Together

Health is a fundamental human right, and for women, it’s particularly crucial. In the face of challenges, whether they be societal, economic, or personal, we discover a profound reservoir of strength when we unite. Women, along with our allies from every corner of society, must stand together. We must utilize our collective voices to advocate for every individual’s equitable access to health care.

As we honor Women’s Health Awareness Month this year, let’s acknowledge the struggles and celebrate the triumphs and resilience that define us as women. Let’s make a concerted effort to amplify the voices of those who have historically been marginalized and overlooked, ensuring that no woman is left behind in the quest for comprehensive healthcare. Together, let’s foster a culture where every woman feels empowered to prioritize her health and well-being, knowing that she deserves nothing less than the best possible care.