We write about political attacks against women’s health care, specifically reproductive health care, a lot on this blog. We feel it is important to make as many people aware of the widespread contempt many conservative politicians seem to have towards ensuring women get proper and timely medical care. From mandatory ultrasounds before abortion laws to cutting funding from programs that specifically fund women’s health care providers it seems there is no lack of politicians supporting an anti-health care agenda. Something we don’t talk about as much, but which deserves attention none the less, are the politicians who attempt to stand up against these attacks.
Recently, Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure changed their funding guidelines which would have prevented them from giving grants to Planned Parenthood for their breast screening and health education programs. Outrage was expressed by Planned Parenthood supporters all over the country including 22 Democratic Senators. The Washington Post reported that after the news broke Sen. Frank Lautenburg (D-NJ) began recruiting co-signers to a “toughly worded” letter imploring Komen to reverse their decision. According to RH Reality Check, an additional 4 Senators had signed on bringing the total up to 26. This campaign along with public pressure seems to have worked as Komen has released a statement indicating they will honor all existing grants to Planned Parenthood and will ensure that Planned Parenthood retains its eligibility to apply for future grants.
Another attempt to support women’s health care came from Virginia State Senator Janet Howell (D-Fairfax). Conservative Senators recently proposed a bill that will require all patients seeking abortions to have an ultrasound preformed before they can have their procedure. This is a non-medically necessary imposition that is intended only to dissuade women from getting abortions. Senator Howell, in an attempt to point out the ludicrousness of imposing politics onto what should be a private decision between a doctor and their patient, proposed an amendment to the bill that would also require men seeking Viagra prescriptions be given a cardiac stress test and rectal exam before they can receive the prescription. Her amendment was defeated but the bill is expected to pass in a vote next week. On the bright side her message was received by at least 18 of her colleagues.
One major politician who recently stood up for women’s health care is the President himself, Barack Obama. In spite of major pressure from the religious right and U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops he has refused to sacrifice women’s health care by granting a broad exemption to the requirement that health insurance plans must cover birth control. The USCCB sought a broad exemption for any religiously affiliated group to be allowed to provide plans that did not cover contraception because it goes against their religious beliefs. This would have meant a huge number of women who work for institutions like Catholic hospitals or universities would not have had coverage for contraception even though they themselves are not Catholic.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that there are politicians who care about women’s health care, so if your local, state or federal politicians have stood up for women’s health recently take some time to let them know it’s appreciated.