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September 21, 2021

After decades of pursuing public health policies to reduce unintended pregnancies in South Carolina, New Morning President & CEO Bonnie Kapp had a bold idea.

What if we made birth control available at little to no cost in every community, in every county, for every person with a uterus in South Carolina, regardless of health insurance coverage? What if we did this against a backdrop of relentless political attacks on reproductive rights and a weak healthcare infrastructure, where 30% of counties have no OB/GYN providers, the average distance to a family medicine practitioner is 37 miles, and 29 of 46 counties in the state are 100% medically underserved?

Against these odds, Choose Well was established in 2017. Choose Well works across a network of 119 health centers to provide free or low-cost birth control across South Carolina. In just four years, it has become the largest state-based contraceptive access program in the nation.

Today on the podcast to talk about the impressive program are New Morning Foundation's President and CEO, Bonnie Kapp, and Chief Operating Officer, Sarah Kelly.

Bonnie and Sarah discuss the backdrop of historical and contemporary barriers to reproductive health access in South Carolina, how the Choose Well program works and has managed to serve over 300,000 South Carolinians to date, what challenges they've encountered, and what lessons they've learned that can be applied to other states in the fight for equitable, comprehensive contraceptive access.

LINKS AND RESOURCES:

  • New Morning Foundation
  • NoDrama.org (public-facing website about the Choose Well program and how to access its services)
  • BOOK: Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty, Dorothy Roberts
  • 40 Years of Human Experimentation in America: The Tuskegee Study
  • FILM: No Más Bebés2015 documentary film:
    They came to have their babies. They went home sterilized. The story of immigrant mothers who sued county doctors, the state, and the US government after they were pushed into sterilizations while giving birth at the Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center during the 1960s and 70s. Led by an intrepid, 26-year-old Chicana lawyer and armed with hospital records secretly gathered by a whistle-blowing young doctor, the mothers faced public exposure and stood up to powerful institutions in the name of justice.
  • FILM: Belly of the Beast, 2020 documentary film:
    When a courageous young woman and a radical lawyer discover a pattern of illegal sterilizations in California’s women’s prisons, they wage a near-impossible battle against the Department of Corrections. With a growing team of investigators inside prison working with colleagues on the outside, they uncover a series of statewide crimes - from inadequate health care to sexual assault to coercive sterilizations - primarily targeting women of color. This shocking legal drama captured over 7 years features extraordinary access and intimate accounts from currently and formerly incarcerated people, demanding attention to a shameful and ongoing legacy of eugenics and reproductive injustice in the United States.
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