Reproductive Health and Health Equity: Trinity Students Advocate for Doula Care in CT

This semester a team of Community Action Gateway students Karolina Barrientos ’22, Olivia Louthen ’22, India Rhodes ’22, and Coleman McJessy ’22 (not pictured) partnered with Health Equity Solutions, an advocacy organization that promotes policies, programs, and practices that result in equitable health care access, delivery and outcomes to ensure every Connecticut resident can attain optimal health regardless of race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status.

Healthy Equity Solutions does a combination of grassroots and grasstops organizing including advocating for statewide legislation related to health equity. This Spring, the students focused on reproductive healthcare access as a component of larger health inequities, especially in the way that disparities disproportionately impact Black mothers and babies. A reproductive health policy  that HES identified to support their mission was S.B. 1078 An Act Concerning Doula Coverage Under the Medicaid Program.

To simultaneously expand their knowledge on reproductive health and to support the organization’s advocacy efforts, students wrote a white paper about the bill…

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Created a one-pager highlighting the benefits of covering doula care– to be used for lobbying legislators…

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AND produced a trifold brochure for Health Equity Solutions to use when conducting workshops and engaging community members.

Throughout the semester, students were exposed to the various layers that come with insurance law, healthcare access, and the very specific issues related to reproductive healthcare. When reflecting on their project during their final presentations on campus, the students discussed some of the background readings and films they had watched to learn more about reproductive health in the United States and how disparities especially impact women of color living in low-income and/or historically medically underserved areas like Hartford. When talking with presentation guests, they were able to connect specific stories they had read about or heard about to the policy they were working on with their partner.

When it comes to protecting and expanding access to reproductive healthcare, advocacy organizations in Connecticut like Health Equity Solutions are setting examples for states around the country. Congratulations to the students for providing well-researched and effective tools to their community partner during a fast paced legislative session.

In the Community Action Gateway, first-year students learn how to create community change with community activists, neighborhood organizers, government leaders, non-profit directors, journalists, and social entrepreneurs in Hartford. If you have questions about the Gateway, contact Director of Community Learning