In reading the case study of Margaret Sanger, this line instantly stood out to me, “It is hard to remember that reproduction was once considered a women’s principle purpose” (Nickitas, Middaugh, & Aries, 2016). A hundred and one years ago, on Oct.16, 1916, Margaret Sanger opened the first birth control clinic in the United States. She was an advocate for women’s reproductive rights who was also a vocal eugenics enthusiast. Sanger’s legacy is complicated, however, as she is seen by some conservatives as an advocate for extermination of babies and black Americans. These false accusations stem from her pioneering work against unplanned pregnancy and the denial of women’s rights. Her work changed policy in favor of women’s rights to life and liberty, and the ability to choose to reproduce or not.
In 1990, the Arkansas State Legislature and the Arkansas Nurse Association “determined that Advanced Practice nurses were the best prepared to address the primary healthcare needs of Arkansans” (Nickitas, Middaugh, & Aries, 2016), but at that time the APNs did not have prescriptive authority. After several attempts at policy change, the legislation was changed in 1995 to allow them to write prescriptions. The ANA task force that worked towards this policy change used external and internal strategies. Internal and external advocacy has to do with stakeholders. Internal advocacy occurs with the stakeholders within an organization. External advocacy occurs outside of the organization, and includes others who will be affected by the policy change (Robertson, 2017).
In both the above cases, nurses wanted to make changes in current law or policy to improve lives of patients they served. Nurses who have an interest in influencing changes can find ways to become a confident advocate. Some issues are more complex and require the knowledge and efforts of organized groups, the help of professional lobbyists, and sustained activity towards the goal for months or even years. The ability to successfully exert influence in various arenas where future healthcare policy decisions are made depends on having a power base and knowing where and when to exert that influence (Abood, 2007).
I will always continue to support women’s reproductive rights, a subject that is still as relevant today as it was 100 years ago. We have come a long way from thinking that a women’s main purpose in life is to reproduce, but power disparities between men and women unfortunately still exists.
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