April 17, 2017

My Reproductive Health Equity Story

by Lena Wood
APANO Member

My name is Lena Wood and I work as a certified nurse-midwife in NE Portland, Oregon. I am a Korean-American adoptee and the mother of an 18-month old who was conceived unintentionally despite using birth control during my midwifery training. I have a background in elementary education and have volunteered as a pregnancy options counselor and a patient advocate at Planned Parenthood. I have also worked as a registered nurse at a private abortion clinic as well as at a primary care clinic serving primarily migrant farmworkers. This rich and diverse experience informs my strong support for the full passage of Oregon House Bill 3391, the Reproductive Health Equity Act.

Every day, I witness how guaranteed access to high quality, culturally responsive reproductive health care impacts all of us, regardless of race, sex, gender, or class. As both a nurse-midwife and a recipient of midwifery care, I am intimately aware of the many complex situations that might bring an individual to seek some kind of reproductive health care: an unintended pregnancy, a miscarriage, a sexually transmitted infection, a breast lump, or desire for more genetic screening because of a strong family history of breast cancer, among many others.

I can’t think of a single patient I work with who would not be seriously impacted by the potential lack of access to comprehensive reproductive health care, myself included. When I found out I was pregnant, I was in the middle of a rigorous midwifery program. Despite having a usually very effective long-acting reversible contraceptive method (LARC), I happened to fall into the less than 1% of people who do get pregnant with a LARC. It was vital that I receive a pelvic ultrasound right away to assess if I had a potentially life-threatening ectopic pregnancy—because I had insurance, that cost was covered. Once I decided that I was going to continue the pregnancy, I needed prenatal care. Again, because I had insurance, much of my prenatal care was covered. While I opted for midwifery care for my pregnancy, I ended up needing obstetric care for a cesarean section anyway, as my baby was breech. Without insurance, I would have had to pay thousands in health care costs for that surgery.

What gave me peace of mind throughout the entire process of bringing my son into the world was knowing that I had access to quality care, care that would ensure my safety and that of my baby. After his birth, I knew I wouldn’t likely have to worry about getting pregnant again too quickly because any contraception method I chose would be fully covered by my insurance company. This allowed me to continue my studies and graduate from my midwifery program. I now have the incredible privilege of serving other women and their families as a midwife, providing them the care they need to control their reproductive health and achieve their life goals. Supporting this bill’s successful passage into law will help make sure that I can keep doing my job well: safeguarding the health of current and future Oregonians.

You can join Lena in supporting the Reproductive Health Equity Act! Urge your legislators to support the bill today.

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