5 Titles to Continue Your Reproductive Justice Journey: An Interview with a Local Feminist and OB/GYN

Posted on June 7, 2024

by Melissa L

On June 20 at 6:30 p.m. the Library will be hosting Reproductive Justice: A Steinem Sister Collection Talking Circle at Maumee Library.

Leading up to that event, we’ll start the conversation by interviewing local feminists and reproductive healthcare workers. Our next interview is with Jackie Vannuyen, a practicing board-certified OB/GYN.

What is your name and what is your background in reproductive health?

Jackie Vannuyen: My name is Jackie Vannuyen. I am a board-certified OB/GYN practicing obstetrics and gynecology for 21 years.

Have you always been a feminist or did you have an “aha” moment?

Jackie: I am Vietnamese and one of five daughters with no brothers. Growing up as a US immigrant, I received mixed messages from my parents and the world encouraging me to strive for academic success leading to a rewarding career with financial independence. Women “can be anyone” or “do anything;” but at the same time, hone my marketability for marriage to “bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan” (see the 1982 commercial for Enjoli/women’s fragrance). I learned quickly that smart girls aren’t popular and neither are those who don’t fit the physical ideals of Americans of European descent. In high school, I had a revisionist AP history teacher who dedicated more education to women’s history than most. This discovery put a name to what I felt: the limits of sexism and racism. My feminist journey continued throughout college with the help of amazing mentors/professors, Jamie Barlowe and Dave Hoch. Meeting friends who shared the same feminist unrest fueled my passion.

Was there a specific event that brought the issue of reproductive justice to life for you?

Jackie: As an OB/GYN, I support women’s reproductive health and choices daily and am reminded of the importance of reproductive justice. Prior to my career though, I went to the April 1992 march and rally in Washington, DC in support of abortion rights. I went again in 2004 with my son and husband in tow for the March for Women’s Lives. I love to educate, validate and de-stigmatize women’s health, their unapologetic bodies and complex processes.

Would you like to share any of your personal reproductive health history?

Jackie: I was hyper-focused on my education and career path and knew becoming pregnant would inhibit or could alter that trajectory. For a long time, I didn’t want to be a mother or to have the perceived associated burdens of motherhood. But falling in love changes so many things. I had my son after thinking I would never have any. I progressed to wanting more children but then being unable and losing a few through miscarriage on that journey. Then we adopted our daughter. While I care and guide so many women on their journeys to or away from fertility, conception, loss and joy, I know these paths personally very well. I have felt the strong urge to conceive and the firm acknowledgment that I am complete with learned independence from my children. Now as a 50-year-old, perimenopausal woman, I have aged alongside my patients. As our reproductive health changes and naturally declines, I am acutely more aware of this next third of my life. While the symptoms of peri/menopause are natural and part of aging, suffering without relief is not. I am currently improving my menopause knowledge to offer more empathetic and complete midlife care for my patients and myself.

How have you seen the birth worker and birthing community change during your career? What has been positive? What do you see that still needs to shift?

Jackie: Best practices to optimize maternal and fetal health and outcomes while involving women and their partners in the birthing process has been a major shift. I battle daily with social media, the internet, and blogs to educate my patients. I think the patriarchal thinking of “do what the doctor says” is obsolete, but the birthing community needs to be aware and acknowledge the maternal/fetal risks of birth regardless if at home or in the hospital setting. A major aspect of my work is to mitigate risks with the best of my knowledge and experience as an obstetrician which includes educating folks along the way.

How does the issue of reproductive justice impact the LGBTQIA community and how should we be supporting this community?

Jackie: Health care for the LGBTQIA community is an expansive topic and probably needs its own set of questions/book recommendations! I think there needs to be more research, more public and healthcare provider education, and even perhaps a subspecialty dedicated to care for this community.

What do you hope to see change in the future in regard to the discussion of reproductive health?

Jackie: I hope to see so many things, but particularly more DEI/trauma-informed care throughout a woman’s life span and more research/focus on menopause transition/care/education. We know so much about puberty, obstetrics, infertility, and gynecology and gynecology-oncology. While there is always more to be learned in those areas, there is little time spent in medical school and residency training on mid-life. Currently, there is a bill called the Advancing Menopause Care and Mid-Life Women’s Health Act. If passed into law, it will dedicate $275 million over 5 years to strengthen and expand federal research on menopause, healthcare workforce training, awareness and education efforts, and public health promotion and prevention to better address menopause and mid-life women’s health issues.

Are there any books you would suggest to those looking to learn more about reproductive justice and feminism?


Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott

Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult

The New Menopause by Mary Claire Haver

The Menopause Brain by Lisa Mosconi

Find your next great read in the Steinem Sisters Collection, located in the Fact and Fiction department of Main Library.

If you would like to get involved with the Steinem Sisters Collection, join our newsletter email list to keep up on all things Steinem Sisters.

Did you like this blog post? Keep up to date with all of our posts by subscribing to the Library’s newsletters!

Keep your reading list updated with our book lists. Our staff love to read and they’ll give you the scoop on new tv-series inspired titles, hobbies, educational resources, pop culture, current events, and more!

Looking for more great titles? Get personalized recommendations from our librarians with this simple form.