We face a new women's health landscape

By Beth Olson

“What’s next?”

Those of you who watched “The West Wing” are smiling right now. For those who need a little background: President Jed Bartlet (Martin Sheen) frequently used this phrase to indicate he was ready to tackle whatever challenge was next on his list. Win or lose. Success or failure.


Last week, I wrote this question on a Post-it and stuck it on my desk. It’s been an eventful month for those of us who work in maternal and reproductive health, and my little Post-it reminds me to forge ahead.

Like most of the country, Wacoans have a wide range of opinions and emotions related to the Supreme Court’s decision on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. This is fair and to be respected. But now it’s time to ask the question. What’s next?

Next, we, as a community, need to affirm that every woman in McLennan County deserves equal access to the best maternal and reproductive health services available. This includes readily accessible and affordable birth control, innovative programs that improve birth outcomes, the integration of reproductive and contraceptive care into primary care — just to name a few.

We also recognize that the women’s health landscape in America has changed and our community will need to adapt. Now is the time for local leaders from all sectors – including healthcare, social services, government, education, business, religious, and philanthropy – to develop and invest in creative strategies that acknowledge this new reality.

Women’s health work in Waco may not include the same snappy one-liners or rapid-fire dialogue as an Aaron Sorkin script. But like his characters in “The West Wing,” our people walk into offices and clinics everyday and take on seemingly impossible tasks because we know that women – no matter their race or socioeconomic status – deserve to be treated with dignity and compassion.

So, my fellow Wacoans, What’s next?

Beth Olson is director of adolescent and women’s health initiatives with Prosper Waco.