We’re excited to have this guest post from Dashaya Craig of Chicago Abortion Fund, a 3W grant partner.
There is a real scarcity of clinics in my community that are available to provide reproductive health care to poor people. The City of Chicago does have public health clinics that were designed to serve people that can’t afford health care and don’t have a private insurance or Medicaid. There are three public health centers on the south side of Chicago, but it usually takes months for someone to get an appointment. When a person does get an appointment it takes an entire day to get seen which could possibly be a day that they have to miss at work. Those conditions cause poor people to not utilize the public health centers and just not go to see a doctor.
Now due to the current economical situation the City of Chicago is “cutting the budget” and two of those three clinics are going to close. So they are referring people to just one clinic and because they can’t accommodate the overflow of people they are just turning people around. Other than the public health clinics there are no other in our community to provide health care for the poor and uninsured. This is one of the main reasons that poor communities are plagued with high rates of STI’s, HIV/AIDS, and unplanned pregnancies. People in poor communities are not properly educated about sexual health, and they don’t have equal access to reproductive health care. Until there is access to reproductive health care available in poor communities there will be a continuous increase in sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancies.
I know a young single mother of two who was pregnant with her third child. She was reliant on Medicaid because she lost her job. The hospital in her neighborhood was a very prestigious and well known hospital in Chicago. It was blocks away from her house — she had both of her older children there, and it was a great facility. When she made her first appointment they were under the assumption that she still had private insurance. However, when she arrived at her appointment and presented her state Medicaid card she was refused service, and referred to another hospital that wasn’t nearly as prestigious and far away from her house. This hospital in particular is constantly turning women away that don’t have private insurance. It’s not that they don’t have any insurance at all — it’s just not private insurance. That is another form of discrimination, because the only people that have Medicaid insurance are poor people. So this could lead you to believe that particular hospital didn’t want to serve the people in the community they’re in.
Regardless if a person is poor or don’t have insurance they shouldn’t be refused health care in their own community, especially when they are pregnant. This young mother with two children ended up not even getting proper health care, because she couldn’t make it to her appointments. This isn’t just her story — this is the story of many poor women of color.