LA County Reproductive Health Services
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade, LA County continues to ensure that access to information and services related to reproductive health and abortions are available to all — regardless of immigration status or residency. A briefing hosted by Ethnic Media Services (EMS) shared LA County’s efforts to remain a safe haven where people can access services, and how community-based nonprofits are working with LA County to safeguard reproductive rights.
The Briefing began with a statement by Supervisor Holly J . Mitchell, Chair of the LA County Board of Supervisors. Supervisor Mitchell talked about the importance of making LA County a sanctuary for women’s reproductive health.
Chanel Smith, Director, LA County Women, and Girls Initiative, provided information for women in the county. Regardless of ethnicity, religion, country of origin, immigration status, documentation status, or languages spoken, reproductive healthcare such as abortion services is still legal and available in LA County. With the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade, every woman in America now fears for the right to make decisions over their own body. “Los Angeles County wants women to know that if you are seeking access to reproductive care including abortion Services the county is here for you. The Safe Haven access to abortion program ensures access to reproductive health care including abortion services for anyone seeking those services in LA County. It is important for every woman to be aware that LA County women and girls initiative stands by you and your right to choose what happens to your body. If you or anyone you know is in need of abortion services you can reach out to a local health care provider. It is your body and in LA county we respect your choice.
Dr. Susie Baldwin, Medical Director, Office of Women’s Health, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, shared more details about the abortion safe-haven project undertaken by the county. Speaking more on what the supervisors’ motion on improving reproductive healthcare she discussed the need for proper abortion services. It is important for women to have safe pregnancies and healthy deliveries. Training needs of the county are vital to providing safe access to healthcare. Clearing the stigma and fear surrounding abortion is also necessary, She shared that abortion is very safe and very common. There is a need for professionals who work directly with clients or patients to have a professional and ethical responsibility to know the facts and to be able to share accurate information with the patients and clients that they serve including how to refer them to the needed services. Per the Board of Supervisors request workforce development is also needed. How to plan to expand the workforce to meet the reproductive healthcare needs of everyone in the county and those who will come from other states where they can no longer get some pregnancy-related services. In some of these states treatment for miscarriage is now banned or illegal. This calls for a pipeline of workforce who want to do this work from nursing assistants to lab technicians, nurses, and doctors to support the care of all the people here and those who will come from other states.
Health disparity is also one of the factors to consider. Expanding health equity for everyone in the county and those visiting from out of state is important. Regardless of where they were born or how long they have been in the United States, they need to be served in a timely manner.
The Immigrant population in particular faces many such barriers. Other areas of equity consideration include women who are unhoused, suffer mental health issues, substance abuse or disorder, as well as the incarcerated. Other groups include immigrants, women of color, as well as lesbians, bisexual and queer women, transgender, gender non-conforming, and intersex people or people who don’t identify as women who sometimes need abortion services and can find this very challenging. Also, consider people leaving jails to re-enter the community who also faced large barriers to healthcare services.
In order to meet the needs of all these diverse groups, the department is partnering with over 35 agencies with whom they will share information and give people better access to health, insurance, transportation, child care, and other services that will enable them to get to the care they need.
The information component she stressed is critical knowing that Roe v Wade was overturned at the federal level but here in California and in LA county abortion is still legal, available, and also still covered by Medical. Despite the stigma, it is still very safe and if you need more information please visit the LA County Public Health website where you can get more information on abortion as a public health issue. Search Office of Women’s Health (OWH) where you will find a menu of services to choose the abortion safe-haven project. The online resource guide will give you the information in English, Spanish and more languages spoken in LA County. It will also give you information on who provides abortion support, and how to pay or get counseling. It will also inform you about misleading information.
Sylvia Castillo, Director, Government and Community Affairs at Essential Access Health, shared programs and services provided by her organization. She stressed the importance of reproductive health to the overall health of the family. The protection of abortion rights in California at The Ballot Box this November is imperative. Because anti-abortion extremists will continue to push for a ban on the right to abortion and contraception needs will be protected in Proposition 1. It is important to enshrine the right to abortion care and the right to use or not use birth control in the California state constitution. This guarantees important health decisions between the patient and the doctor no matter who governs the state and also protects access for generations to come guaranteeing California as the reproductive Freedom state.
Sasha Nochimow, Access Reproductive Justice, also shared information about their services This organization advocates for policy at the state level. They are the only statewide stand-alone abortion fund in the state of California. In existence for over 30 years, they focus on eliminating barriers to the healthcare of any kind and abortion care in particular. Priority goes to 3 groups of people including Californians, anyone traveling into California for care, and any Californian leaving California for care.No focus is made on income, documentation, residency, or age requirements.
Finally, Rigoberto Reyes, Executive Director, Office of Immigrant Affairs, assured immigrants that his office is there to answer any concerns in regard to the potential impact on immigration status as they receive any of these services. Immigrants have fears and they can help. It is vital to emphasize that cultural circumstances be taken into account and that the impact on those women should be considered as well.