Monday, May 27, 2024

Exhibit aims to begin reproductive healthcare conversation

| May 10, 2024 1:00 AM

SANDPOINT — It has been a year since Bonner General Health announced it would no longer offer labor and delivery service, and to commemorate the anniversary of the loss of reproductive services, The Pro-Voice Project is unveiling a multimedia exhibit titled “Worth of a Woman.”

The art installation is designed to elevate the conversation around reproductive healthcare in Bonner County and beyond, examining the connections between women’s health and community health and the barriers that stand in the way of women accessing care. Pro-Voice staff said the exhibit aims to bring a historically difficult conversation into the public sphere to address a real-time problem, destigmatize its discussion and collaboratively create a better future.

“Historically, we’ve had a difficult time talking about all facets of reproductive healthcare,” said Pro-Voice founder Jen Jackson Quintano. “There’s so much stigma attached to discussion of women’s bodies, their functions and their needs, that we tend to ignore the issue altogether.”

With the loss of obstetrical and gynecological services in the county, Quintano said the community needs to be talking about this issue more than ever, or reproductive healthcare in Bonner County will never be restored.

“The things we’re not talking about, we’re not fighting for,” she added. “This is something worth fighting for, so let’s start the conversation.”

There will be a series of events regarding “Worth of a Woman,” commencing Friday, May 10, at 5 p.m. at the East Bonner County Library. Author and professor Dr. Jennifer Hill will be presenting “Caring for Women, Caring for Communities.” This talk covers her research documenting the hidden history of childbirth and reproduction in the West through the early 1900s.

Dr. Hill will diagram the impacts of reproductive care for communities, acknowledge the significance of women throughout the lifecycle, and address healthcare access issues historically and into the present.

Discussion of the “Worth of a Woman” will continue on Sandpoint radio station, KRFY, for three Tuesdays in a row, addressing different aspects of the exhibit. Airing at 8 a.m. on May 7, 14 and 21, radio hosts will discuss the importance of reproductive healthcare availability with special guests, including scholars, legislators, and community members.

The in-person art installation will debut at the Bluebird Bakery in Sandpoint starting May 12, and will remain up for a month before moving to other venues around town.

Next month, The Pro-Voice Project will partner with the Idaho Humanities Council to bring a three-part, facilitated community conversation series to Sandpoint, addressing the topics of the worth of a woman, healthcare in Idaho, and legislative impacts on Idaho women.

These conversations will take place at the East Bonner County Library on Thursday, June 13; Monday, June 24; and Thursday, July 11, all at 5 p.m.

“Worth of a Woman” includes personal stories from women who previously gave birth at Bonner General Health, as well as perspectives and statistics related to maternal mortality, legal barriers to care, the undervaluing of reproductive health, and more.