The routine of work – gym – classes – home does not leave much time for personal enrichment, and I have to make a conscious attempt to spare a minute for reading about current events. I do that not only to be able to carry an intelligent conversations with my Cambridge patients whose IQ, operating vocabulary, and knowledge of current events can intimidate the average population. I push myself to read the news to see how ever-changing world can affect my future as well as my evolving nursing career.
Once in a while, I am lucky to get my hands on an issue of a New Yorker, and if the issue contains an article that has even marginal relevance to healthcare, I consider myself even luckier. A couple of months ago, I read an article about Brooklyn-located Planned Parenthood Center, first birth control clinic in United States, its history that reflected the attitude of society to women’s rights, birth control and abortion.
A free on-line article can be found here: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/11/14/111114fa_fact_lepore?currentPage=all
Not surprisingly, the history of the birth control clinic somewhat ran parallel with the history of community nursing. Just like Lillian Wald’s Henry Street Settlement started as entrepreneurial women’s effort to provide the health care for the poor and working class residents of the city, Planned Parenthood launched from a three-employee office that fought a not-so liberal attitude of the population towards a woman’s right to control to give birth. Margaret Sanger, a thirty-seven-year-old nurse and mother was a founder of the clinic. The article talks how Sanger “began nursing poor immigrant women living in tenements on New York’s Lower East Side, and found that they were desperate for information about how to avoid pregnancy”. These “doomed women implored me to reveal the ‘secret’ rich people had”. Over the years, the organization grew at times at the cost of the workers’ own life: some of them had to spend time in jail for distributing contraceptives to the under-privileged population.
I don’t want to ruin the article for you by summarizing every detail. Instead, I highly recommend reading this passionate description of events, which, I am sure, will touch your deeply-rooted empathy and desire to help those in need. The article makes you re-examine your attitude towards abortion, and look at the legislative side of things. I found appalling, how archaic some of the attitudes are, and how low the education on pregnancy prevention subsists. The article mentions how in Idaho, “there is no sex education, except, sometimes, an abstinence program”.
Whether you chose to read the article or not, ask yourself, what you think about a woman’s right to have an abortion.