Two local nonprofits are teaming up to offer free reproductive health care to survivors of domestic violence.
Bozeman health clinic Bridgercare is offering free reproductive health care to people who are referred to the clinic from Haven, Bozeman’s domestic violence shelter.
Additionally, Bridgercare helps the survivors get signed up for Medicaid or marketplace insurance plans if needed for more comprehensive medical coverage.
Erica Aytes Coyle, Haven director, called the project “the biggest gift in the world.”
“This partnership is exactly what our whole community hopes nonprofits can do — work together to meet the needs of people who need these programs and services. We’re so excited Bridgercare invited us to be a part of it,” Coyle said.
The Bridge to Care for Domestic Violence Survivors Project, or Havencare for short, began as a pilot project in April after the staff at Bridgercare came up with the idea.
Stephanie McDowell, Bridgercare associate director, noted that the clinic screens patients for domestic and sexual violence, things that can play into patients’ health.
“It’s important for us to be asking our patients about that when they come and see us,” McDowell said.
Reproductive coercion is a tactic abusers often use on their victims, Coyle said, prohibiting their victims from accessing birth control. An estimated 10.3 million women in the U.S. report having had an intimate partner attempt to get them pregnant against their will or refuse to use a condom.
“It’s one more way abusers can reduce the chances a survivor leaves the relationship,” Coyle said.
With one of Bridgercare’s missions being more access to affordable reproductive health care, McDowell said it was the “right thing to do” to help people in domestic violence situations who need essential health care.
While the program started in April, McDowell said they hit the ground running this summer thanks to funding from the Doll Family Foundation, which will pay for the first full year of the project.
“It’s working well for us and it’s working well for Haven and it’s definitely working well for participants who are seeking care,” McDowell said.
Domestic abuse survivors can contact Haven at 586-4111 for more information on Bridgercare’s services.