The ACOG American Indian and Alaska Native Women’s Health Program recognizes the work of Dr. Eve Espey, of the University of New Mexico School of Medicine, and of Dr. Brian Thompson, of SUNY Upstate Medical University. Earlier this year, Dr. Espey and Dr. Thompson traveled to New York to address the United Nations on healthcare disparities faced by AI/AN women.
Dr. Espey focused her remarks on “the narrative of violence against women” perpetuated by a difficult history of “Western imperialism, exploitation, and abuse.” In recounting her time with the Indian Health Service helping staff a teen clinic at Fort Wingate High School, Dr. Espey was disheartened to learn that young women especially were “disempowered through violence and reproductive coercion.” She shared a story about a fifteen year old patient who came to see her wanting birth control, but also expressing abdominal pain. Upon a gynecological exam, Dr. Espey immediately moved the patient to the hospital and attended to her as she delivered a full term baby girl. In speaking with the Native hospital social worker, Dr. Espey learned that the teen had a coercive, controlling boyfriend who was opposed to any form of contraceptive methods.