Whole Women’s Health, LLC, Charlottesville, VA
This summer I interned with Whole Woman’s Health (WWH), an organization dedicated to providing holistic reproductive and gynecological care to women across the country. Founded on the mission to provide safe and non-stigmatized abortions, Whole Woman’s Health began in Texas in 2003 and has since branched out with eight different clinics. While I mainly communicated with the Chief of Staff and Director of Communications, I was able to speak with members of the company across different locations and positions. I worked on multiple projects throughout the summer which allowed me a glimpse of the many dimensions of work that occur at WWH. I began by exploring the bibliography of resources WWH provides in their reference library to familiarize myself with the history of the field of reproductive rights. While I certainly learned a lot, this also allowed me to see gaps in the resources they had provided, too, which naturally led to my first project of compiling a new updated list of materials that included a section on racial inequality and injustices within women’s healthcare. This required both doing research of my own as well as conversing with the Advocacy Coordinators in the Minnesota and Texas branches in order to create a resource that would best encompass national health inequalities surrounding race as well as those that most impacted the local areas around the clinics directly. These conversations gave me a necessary glimpse into the realities of healthcare beyond the homogenous bubble of Massachusetts that surrounds me and allowed me to better understand the depth of the issues WWH is fighting for.
While I was still able to gain much insight into the world of reproductive rights, my internship, of course, still very much reflected the effects of Covid-19 in many ways. Amid other tasks, I was asked to create and update lists of Covid-19 guidelines for the counties with clinics for the directors. Perhaps most impactful for me was watching WWH branches navigate the combination of Covid-19 restrictions as well as the Texas legislators that were constantly trying to deem abortion services nonessential. At one point during quarantine when all Texas clinics were closed, WWH began flying every single patient at risk of lapsing legal abortion gestation to Virginia clinics that remained open. I was truly awed at the lengths to which WWH went to safeguard the constitutional right for these women to receive abortions. Previously, I had thought I was more interested in the healthcare side of Public Health, but watching WWH litigators tirelessly go back each day to fight against unjust legislation and protect every single woman’s right to make this impossibly difficult choice for herself rather than be told by a government made me realize I was equally fascinated by reproductive legislation. Interning with WWH has affirmed my desire to get a Master’s in Public Health, and I am so grateful to the Bruce C. Davey Estate and to the ’68 Center for this opportunity. While I am still not completely sure which of the many dimensions I will end up in, I know now that there are truly endless possibilities within the world of reproductive rights and justice I would be thrilled to spend my life pursuing.