Reproductive Power

In August 2018, Magazine by Genevieve Joëlle VillamizarLeave a Comment

I don’t think Rebecca Binion would view her career as one of power. She’s too busy managing the sole Planned Parenthood on the I-70 corridor, west of the Divide from here into Utah. Binion is too invested in cultivating relationships– at work, with clients, and within in her own family. Too appreciative of her responsibilities to the people that need her the most: the mostly under- or uninsured women, men, and teenagers relying on Planned Parenthood for their reproductive health.

Ever a dynamo, B|AM has witnessed Binion waving a sign in the Women’s March; sprinting up the front side of Mushroom Rock; and biking Prince Creek singletrack.  Last week, she completed first Leadville 100, final stats, 103 miles, 12,000ft of elevation, all in 11:49!

In pursuing a life of advocacy and care in reproductive health, Rebecca Binion empowers many of us: in our right to science-based health information, our right to reproductive health and our right to choose. And she’s right on, too: Planned Parenthood is a gift. 

Q: How do you view your role with Planned Parenthood?

A: My role as a health center manager allows me to wear many hats. There are so many different aspects to the role, and they’re always shifting. My number one role, of course, is to support my staff. And whether I’m working on maintaining our physical space, interacting with our patients, or engaging with youth and the larger community to get them involved in our work, it’s all a part of the job. I’m proud to say I’ve been with Planned Parenthood for 16 years now. And even when I’m not at work, folks often come to me with questions about their health. It’s such an honor that people trust me enough to share the most intimate details of their lives, and in that way, my role transcends the boundaries of the health center. It’s part of who I am.

Q: In an ideal world, how would you wish to see reproductive health provided in our community? 

A: I’d love to see health care be something that’s accessible and affordable to everyone. As someone who is really active in my community, it’s also important to me that people feel comfortable coming to see me at the health center, even if they might know me in another capacity. That means ending the stigma around reproductive and sexual health care, and especially around abortion care. Being a part of Planned Parenthood comes with a responsibility to the community. It means treating all patients with compassion, with acceptance, without judgment. Sexual health care is normal. It’s another part of your overall health care, just like anything else.

Q: How do you keep morale up for staff, in light of the consistent attacks on reproductive rights?

A: Humor is so important, especially in difficult times. We laugh a lot. It’s also really important to listen to my staff. Hearing them out, allowing them to voice their concerns or ideas, and giving them the space to do so allows us to always continue improving. I also really emphasize a healthy work-life balance with my staff. I encourage them to get out and play, to recharge when they need to, no questions asked. It doesn’t always have to be about work. We all need balance in our lives.

Q: When situations like Trump’s tampering with Title X arise…?

A: Patients come in and they talk to us about their concerns. They’re worried about us, wanting to know if we’ll have to close our doors. It gives us an opportunity to educate our patients, not just about the health care they’re getting but also about Planned Parenthood. About how we rely on a variety of funding sources and how important their support is. The best thing they can do is keep coming to us for their health care needs. A lot of what is happening politically can be very upsetting. These are high-stress times and there’s nothing more important than community and support. Glenwood Springs is a really strong community and has come together to support our local health center time and again. So what I would say to folks who are upset, worried, or concerned is: Whatever it is that’s happening politically right now that’s upsetting you, that’s where it’s important to get involved.

Q: I would imagine your position has lovely highs, being involved with reproduction, education, empowerment?

A:  It’s such an honor to be a part of Planned Parenthood. I remember the day I saw the job posting in the paper – I couldn’t dial the number fast enough. I know how much the work we do matters. I might be the only person who hears someone’s story and I don’t take it lightly. I hope when someone remembers their experience with Planned Parenthood, and with me, they remember how much they were respected and how much we listened. I get the chance to normalize the conversation about sexual health every day. And really, what could be more empowering for women than the ability to decide for themselves when and whether to start a family? 

Q: And challenges?

A: We’re overachievers at Planned Parenthood – we always want to see as many patients as we can, to provide as many services as our community might need. We strive to be accessible to any and all who are seeking care, and we are always working to reduce barriers to accessing that care.

Q: What do you do to recharge?

A: I recharge by spending time with my family and friends and getting outside to play. I am happy when I am pedaling, be that on a bike commute to work, or my mountain bike riding single track, or on the field playing bike polo!! I also participate in an occasional bike race.

A Few Proustian-Binion Highlights:

1.    Your current state of mind?

Well, I am looking to hire a Health Center Assistant at work.

It’s Mountain Fair week – so it’s another way for me to recharge and connect with family, friends, and the community. I help organize the raffle booth at the fair, so I’ll be there all weekend.

 I’m also thinking about my daughter who is going to college in a couple of weeks, and feeling all the emotions of kids growing up, leaving the house, and what the next chapter in my life will be as an empty nester.

Oh, and I’m participating in my first 100-mile mountain bike race in a few weeks as well.

2.    What do you most value in your friends?

Honesty, respect, humor, AND flexibility.  I love to plan adventures with my friends and creating memories that will last a lifetime.

3.    Who are your heroes in real life?

My husband – he is the kindest, most patient human being EVER. Really, ever. Our world needs more people like him. He inspires and motivates me daily to be my best self!

4.    What is your motto?

Back at the health center, we keep a bulletin board in our staff room with photos of all of us and our favorite quotes. One of my favorites:

“Wake up, kick ass, be nice, and repeat.