Reproductive health in the military is an important topic and something we do not talk about. I’m excited to talk to Dr. Toni Marengo about this important topic. She is the co-facilitator of the expert consortium guiding the work for Healthy Women’s new Ready, Healthy, Able program that provides resources to active duty service members with female biology. In this week’s episode, we focus on the importance of reproductive health along with the complexities with the topic of reproductive health.
Reproductive Health in the Military
She never imagined she would be in the role she is in today. But it all started with her desire to become a doctor. She wasn’t sure how she would pay for medical school but thought a Naval scholarship might be the best way to do it. Even with her dad saying joining wasn’t a good idea she decided to do it anyways.
Her career in the military as an OBGYN led her to hear stories of women. Challenges they faced and how these challenges affected not only the women serving but the overall mission of the military as a whole. She worked to advocate for changes to make things different for women. But she left the military because she needed stability for her family. Her husband was not serving. And they were already separated. Then, with a potential deployment looming it would have made life even more difficult.
Continuing to advocate for military women
But she still wanted to advocate for women in the military. In this episode, we talk about why women’s reproductive health is so important and why she continues to advocate for women in the military, along with military dependents as well. Even before Roe vs. Wade was repealed the challenges for around reproductive health were already there.
Because of the Hyde Act women in the military and dependents can not use federal funds for an abortion. She shared the story of a stay at home mom married to a young enlisted man who wanted their baby. But at the twenty week appoint there were problems. But because the baby still had a heart beat they were unable to advocate to terminate the pregnancy with federal funds. The mother had other health concerns, but wasn’t able to get the care she needed from the military.
Repeal of Roe vs. Wade
The complexities for women in the military has only increased since the repeal of Roe vs. Wade. Women in states with restrictive laws along with the lack of information has women paying out of pocket to travel for basic medical advice and procedures.
Healthy Women is working to help educate women and provide resources so that women can be not only better educated but able to advocate for themselves. Right now there is talk on how to make changes for women. But until action is taken we need to continue to advocate for these changes.
Thank you to our sponsor:
Thank you to Healthy Women for sponsoring this week’s episode. Go check out the amazing resources Healthy Women has created for military women through their new program Ready, Healthy and Able.
Also you can check out Real Women, Real Stories, along with my story here.