When members of Congress "announce a new framework" for women’s health advocacy, it’s time to pay attention.
Congress all too often understands women’s health as discretionary, as we saw when family planning provisions were dropped from the economic stimulus package. Contraceptive access, sexuality education, HIV and STI prevention, abortion care are all understood as optional. Democrats, elected and otherwise, often frame them as bonuses which women earn if they work hard to elect Democratic candidates. Republicans think of them as rewards for bad behavior. All too often, neither side considers reproductive health a cornerstone of women’s health — and our nation’s health.
Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Jan Schakowsky have introduced a resolution that recognizes reproductive health care as fundamental to women’s ability to lead healthy lives and to ensure that women’s health care concerns, including reproductive health needs, are included in the push for national health reform. The legislation would commit Congress to passing, "within 18
months of adopting the resolution, legislation that guarantees health care for
women and all individuals and establishes coverage that enables women to attain
good health that they can maintain during their reproductive years and
throughout their lives."
At a press release announcing the introduction of the new legislation, the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health unveiled a new report that makes the "scientific,
data-driven case that reproductive health is a key determinant of women’s
overall health." The report argues that treatments and services that promote
reproductive health must be part of any national health plan. It outlines a "well-woman standard of care," and has been endorsed by 38 deans of schools of public health.
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Dr. Wendy Chavkin,
co-author of the new report on the "well-woman standard of
care" will be one of the featured speakers during the Raising Women’s Voices upcoming
National Women’s Speak Out and strategy conference on health reform
April 1 and 2 in New York City. You can learn more here.