It is evident from the case study of Margaret Sanger that she played a significant role in challenging societal norms surrounding women’s reproductive rights. One key aspect to note is that reproduction was once considered a woman’s main purpose. However, Sanger’s pioneering work against unplanned pregnancy and for women’s rights to choose their own reproductive path fundamentally changed this narrative.
Sanger’s advocacy for birth control and access to contraceptives led her to open the first birth control clinic in the United States in 1916. This act symbolized a shift towards women being able to make choices about their own bodies and reproductive health. However, it is important to acknowledge that Sanger’s legacy is complex. She was also an outspoken eugenics enthusiast, which has led some conservatives to view her as an advocate for the extermination of babies and black Americans. These accusations are unfounded and detract from the immense impact of her work on women’s rights.
In a similar vein to Sanger’s advocacy, nurses have been at the forefront of advocating for policy changes that improve the lives of the patients they serve. An example of this can be seen in the case of the Arkansas State Legislature and the Arkansas Nurse Association. In 1990, it was determined that Advanced Practice nurses (APNs) were best prepared to address the primary healthcare needs of Arkansans. However, at that time, APNs did not have prescriptive authority. It took several attempts and years of advocacy, but in 1995, the legislation was changed to allow APNs to write prescriptions.
Advocacy for policy change can take different forms, with internal and external advocacy being two prevalent strategies. Internal advocacy involves engaging stakeholders within an organization, while external advocacy reaches beyond the organization to include those who will be affected by the policy change. In both the case of Margaret Sanger and the APNs in Arkansas, nurses recognized the need for policy change to improve the lives of individuals they served. This recognition led to the development and implementation of both internal and external advocacy strategies.
Becoming a confident advocate requires nurses to have a strong understanding of the issues they are advocating for and the ability to exert influence in various decision-making arenas. Some issues may be more complex and require the collective efforts of organized groups, the assistance of professional lobbyists, and sustained activity for extended periods. Nurses must also have a solid power base and be knowledgeable about when and where to exert their influence.
In conclusion, Margaret Sanger’s legacy as an advocate for women’s reproductive rights is both admirable and complicated. While she advanced the cause of women’s right to choose their reproductive path, her support for eugenics has led to false accusations against her. Nurses, like Sanger, have been at the forefront of advocating for policy changes that improve the lives of their patients. Internal and external advocacy strategies are crucial in achieving these changes. Nurses who wish to advocate for policy change must develop a strong power base and understand how to exert influence effectively. Although progress has been made in women’s reproductive rights, power disparities between men and women still exist, highlighting the ongoing relevance of this issue.