Last fall, I began a fellowship with Reproaction to organize in St. Louis communities as part of The Right Time initiative led by the Missouri Family Health Council. The Right Time is a six-year initiative working with a variety of health centers and community partners in targeted regions across Missouri to provide training, technical assistance, and funding to expand access to the full range of contraceptive methods. My organizing fellowship has allowed me to raise community awareness about birth control access through The Right Time participating health centers, create opportunities for St. Louisans to share personal stories about the importance of family planning options, and empower people with medically accurate information about those options.
With 14 health centers across Missouri participating in the initiative, people have the ability to make informed decisions about their reproductive health in their own community. The Right Time offers and provides in-depth information about 17 contraceptive methods, in addition to providing testimonials of actual community members, and articles about topics related to reproductive health such as emerging STI/STDs, birth control side effects, facts/myths about birth control and much more.
My work consists of organizing one-on-one discussions, community presentations, phone banking sessions to contact community leaders and elected officials, canvassing to distribute literature and organizing a dynamic community education event in December! In the last three months of 2019, we have reached over 100 community members and distributing over 250 pamphlets, and we’re just getting started. It has already become clear that having access to affordable contraceptives is a concern shared by most people; regardless of socioeconomic status, race, sexual orientation, ability, religion, or political party.
I’ve talked with several student organizations at Washington University in St. Louis, such as the Association of Black Students where students openly discussed the history of reproductive oppression Black women face, such as sexual assault, family separation and, sterilization. I’ve also worked with Medical Students for Choice on effective patient communication and to raise awareness of the initiative.
One of the many highlights St. Louis offers is the vast number of local coffee shops that serve more than hot coffee, tea, and delectable treats, but are also a hub of information for important events and current issues. I distributed information cards about The Right Time initiative at four coffee shops in South St. Louis city that serve a diverse population and have distinctive missions. For example, one of the coffee shops that was paramount to share information at was Shameless Grounds, which is a radically inclusive cafe that celebrates sex positivity. 
We must advocate for our reproductive health and rights. The Right Time initiative is a powerful resource to give power back to Missourians who not only deserve it but are more than capable of making their own decisions about their bodies and their future. Stay tuned for more events and opportunities to take action in 2020!
If you are in St. Louis or Columbia and would like Reproaction to speak to your student group or community organization, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about The Right Time initiative, visit therighttime.org.
- Shameless Grounds: https://shamelessgrounds.com/