#3 Thoughts on Women’s Healthcare Access

This week, I talked with my dad, my aunt, and my sister on their thoughts about planned parenthood and laws surrounding women’s healthcare access.


This is simple for me:  Access should be absolutely equal to men’s access – including the reproductive health needs for women. So this means even more accessibility. All woman should have full access to what they need.

Question: What about Poverty? Free access?

Women’s health needs should be considered equally under all other health needs under our current system.  Health care in general – should be similar for example to a heart check up. Considered on equal footing. There are some who don’t believe that.

Politics in play. Many people in power in state, local and federal government see this as a religious/moral issue. Since they are in control they are imposing their beliefs on others. They are trying to legislate through the courts limited access.  Let’s be clear, some women too believe in this control. How women’s bodies should be controlled by people in power makes it scary.

Right now there is a real swing in power politics toward religiously driven ideas for the people, mostly men, who happen to be in power.



I am in support of this organization that has a really important mission.  I think it has an important role to play in women’s health care. I would support them financially if I were inclined to spend money this way. I know my daughter has used PP in Portland as a way to get exams and birth control so I feel it is important she has access to this. She is fortunate that she has private health through the affordable care act with us, but she still tends to use this service. And feels more comfortable going there than calling a traditional doctor.

I’m aware that in addition to birth control and some abortion services PP also provides mammogram screening  and health screening for women to be treated. Politicians should support more access to this rather than being torn down and limited.



When talking about women’s health rights and how they can take care of their bodies, there are a lot of men speaking out about it, when it is not really an issue relating to them. Women are speaking out because it is not simply limited to abortions. Some people are dismissing PP as an abortion service and not how important

A popular TV show spent an entire 20-minute episode explaining the importance of the service.  The episode focused on PP in a positive way and the point was trying to inform others who have limited understanding. It’s ridiculous that a cartoon comedy needs to do this parody because it has gotten to this point where people don’t know and the producers see that it needs to be a way to inform others.

Men should state opinions but it has to be an informed opinion. You have to do research. You can say I don’t agree with this and here’s why, but it shouldn’t be a case where  “I don’t like this and since I have power I am taking this away” which is what it feels like now. Because of a religious belief of a person in power shouldn’t mean you have your rights to health care and abortions taken away. Abortions also are necessary because of all kinds of situations including rape, and illness. It’s not simply a moral issue.



Liv Hennessey

5 Responses to “#3 Thoughts on Women’s Healthcare Access

  • What strikes me in these interviews, Liv, is how much I agree with them. Your interviewees clearly support the idea of access to health care providers for women at all income levels; they also have a strong bent toward reproductive rights including abortion. Their opinions validate my own beliefs and make me feel comfortable.

    The unity of their vision also makes sense: they are all part of the same family. And therein lies a problem for me.

    Do other families have the same sort of singular vision but in a way that is oppositional to your own? How does talking to people who share our values reinforce those values? What happens when we venture into unfamiliar territory and speak to people who do not share our vision? Can we listen to them with openness and compassion? Can we afford to change our own opinion?

    These brief interviews show that you are skilled at asking questions and soliciting thoughtful answers – which is wonderful. I look forward to seeing what happens when you approach someone outside of your bubble, because that’s where the exploration of a deep question gets interesting. It’s also where change happens.

  • Liv,

    The folks you interviewed are certainly in agreement with you on this topic, so I imagine they validated your ideas, but I am also wondering about this part of your thinking:

    “How did these conversations align with or stretch my thinking about this topic?
    Have these conversations increased my interest in my current topic, or something else?”

    I guess I should state I am pro-choice. 100%. And have had plenty of heated conversations with those who take an opposite view. But I am wondering where would you like your research to go? Do you feel as if the religious opposing viewpoint is invalid, or do you hope to change it? Do you feel that shutting PP down is a political agenda from the Religious Right that you can sway? Do you think that there is a bridge that could be formed between the gap of differences?

    In my mind, one of the strengths of What’s the Story, is engaging in civil discourse with those who feel very differently, and finding a middle ground. I am curious if there is a middle place here? Or where you might see one emerging? Can someone be pro-life and pro-choice? Can PP be maintained with both these sides heard?

    Is it only abortion rights that you feel strongly about, or women’s health care needs in general? Or are you more concerned about equal access for all women? My daughter does not receive health care from her job, nor can she afford it on her own. She thinks very carefully before consulting a doctor about any health issue. Many times she chooses not to and suffers through illness, which thankfully have not been chronic. There are undoubtedly huge numbers of people still unable to get medical aid when needed. Is that part of your concern? To help treat the underserved population?

    Very curious what you are thinking about these questions, and how you see your research going deeper into this issue.



  • Hi Liv,
    Something that really had me wondering was what your dad said about men’s access to health care and reproductive health needs. This was super interesting since I only know some of a women’s need within the healthcare industry. Also, it sounds like you picked a pool of individuals that support the organization mission. Overall within Vermont, I believe that planned parenthood is a very supported business and women’s health in general. Something that could be interesting is Roe v. Wade and the talk that is occurring around this case.
    Have a good weekend

  • Hi Liv,
    It’s interesting that your aunt said her daughter feels “more comfortable going [to Planned Parenthood] than calling a traditional doctor.” Many young women rely on the anonymity Planned Parenthood offers, especially those worried about their parents finding out about their sexual activity. It could be educational, if you know of anyone you could interview along this vein, to discover how many women depend on Planned Parenthood. How many women would stop seeking the type of services, both free and paid, offered by Planned Parenthood if politicians are successful in shutting it down? Do politicians know the ramifications of closing Planned Parenthood because of their power and religious beliefs? What are their religious beliefs? Do they justify depriving so many of health care they would otherwise be unable to afford?
    I’m excited to see where you take this idea.

  • Liv,

    I appreciate the work you have done and the clarity of this post.

    I don’t want to repeat what others have said here, though I agree with most of it. My thoughts would be these:

    What about people who oppose abortion? there are many who agree with the balding white males who are in leadership. When I was managing editor of The Burlington Free Press, I put together a team of reporters and photographers to prepare for the Vermont State Supreme Court’s decision on whether to overturn a lower court decision denying two gay men the right to marry. We identified all the stakeholders in the story and assigned reporters, when possible, to polar opposites. So one reporter, who also happened to be a lesbian, was assigned to cover the plaintiffs and the leaders of a church in Jericho who were adamantly, vociferously opposed to homosexuality and, thus, any law that would enable gay people from marrying. The reporter did a fantastic job and was careful and respectful to both sides. So I think it’s important that you understand that point of view, that you give it respectful airing. That will help you drill down to what you see as the pivotal point of the story you decide to tell.

    I also wondered in your posts whether your story was about Planned Parenthood or the woman’s right to choose. You could go either way; a story I haven’t seen very often is from the perspective of the health care provider. Often they are concerned about their own safety, but perhaps you could protect them. To me, a story that shows me why these care givers do what they do and risk what they do might be very powerful.

    Finally, I want to say that this is an issue that has been divisive for decades. I remember going door-to-door for a candidate for congress I was working for in 1978. I went into a French Canadian Catholic neighborhood and once they found out who I was working for — and he had come out in support of a woman’s right to choose — they closed the door. Sometimes hard. There was no room for discussion. And it was an issue that outweighed any other issue. Given how long this has been a deep, emotional issue that pits women’s rights against religious creed, you might try to find an angle that shows the story in a different light, that illuminates a point of view or framing question that is not often heard.

    I hope that helps. You are choosing an ambitious topic, a difficult topic. But sometimes those are the most satisfying. Let me know how I can help.


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