As a college student at the University of Colorado during the 1960’s, Ellen Silverman remembers, she had to walk miles to get to the family planning clinic. There was no bus to catch and she had no money for the taxi. Hours earlier she had called a social worker, looking for affordable birth control.
“Are you pregnant?”, the social worker asked. “No”, she replied hesitantly, wondering why the social worker had asked her that question. “Good,” he said, and then quickly told her to jot down the number of a nurse to visit on the far end of town. She thanked him and hung up the phone. Why so secret?, she thought.
As you may have guessed, Ellen was uninsured. After college, the military, and raising two beautiful sons, Ellen has all the insurance she needs. Her family, her career, her life may not have been the same if she didn’t happen to find that social worker, kind enough to give her the number of a nurse willing to help her.
“If I had not been able to get the birth control I needed and then become pregnant, society would have let me down. I would have been an unwed mother on welfare,” she said. Everything about that day seemed so hush-hush to Ellen, and today she still finds access to women’s wellness services provided under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to be somewhat hush-hush.
“We need to make things more public,” she said firmly over the phone. With increased access to women’s reproductive services, she contends, women in need have a right to know what’s available to them and readily get the services they demand. Ellen is not alone when she stresses the need more education about the existing health services for women and potential improvements to those services as the ACA is fully implemented. She, like many other concerned women, envision a future when women don’t have to feel isolated from the services they need.