Our American Discourse, Ep. 14: Why So Many Women Can’t Access Health Care

In Imperial County, California, just outside San Diego, 5.5 percent of teenage girls become pregnant every year. That’s twice the rate in the rest of the state. This presents two mysteries: Why is teen pregnancy so rampant here when it’s been declining to record lows statewide? And why has it received so little attention? In her recent PhD dissertation, my guest solved both of these mysteries. What she found will make you rethink everything you thought you knew about women’s health care — and the politics that determine whether it’s accessible for all.

In this episode, inspirational speaker and social work professor Melissa Bird brings us face-to-face with American women who form the very bedrock of their communities — and their incredible, invisible struggle to take care of themselves.

Dr. Bird is a college lecturer and public speaker on issues ranging from social work to public policy to leadership. She publishes research on women’s health and social justice. She has worked as a therapist, a program manager for homeless youth policy, a citizen lobbyist, and as the Executive Director of the Planned Parenthood Action Council and the Vice President of Public Policy for the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah. She holds a PhD in social work from the University of Southern California. She is launching a new online program, “Marginalized No More,” to inspire and teach average citizens how to engage in politics and enact change. More details are available on her website, birdgirlindustries.com.

To listen to this episode of Our American Discourse, click the orange arrow in the Soundcloud player at the top of this post. Or you can download it and subscribe through iTunes, Soundcloud, or Google Play.


“Our American Discourse” is produced by Aubrey HicksJonathan Schwartz, and myself, and mixed by Corey and Ryan Hedden.