Women’s health care access is in jeopardy. Most people who care about this issue are aware of the situation.
California needs to join Maryland, Nevada and Oregon in guaranteeing funding for contraception and preventive services for women.
You probably heard in March that the current administration’s effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act failed.
Making much less of a splash, was less than a week later – a bill passed in the House, then the Senate by a “mandate” of 51 to 50 (that’s right, Vice President Pence had to cast a tie-breaking vote), and was signed into law by the President.
This new law allows states to deny for any reason federal funding to any organization providing family planning services.
This new law revokes a late-term President Obama regulation that allowed states to do this only if the organization was unable to provide these services.
This now unblocked path helps the 16 states already denying funds to family planning clinics, especially if they include abortion among their services.
Last month, Maryland became the first state to pass a law that ensures coverage for contraception and other preventive services. Nevada and Oregon are actively working on legislation that will ensure access to these family planning services.
Planned Parenthood is the biggest target of funding cuts, in large part because they provide abortions. However, only about 3% of their clinic visits are for abortions. The other 97% of patient visits are for birth control, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, and general preventive care including Pap smears and mammograms.
Most patients at Planned Parenthood are at or below 150% of the poverty level. Cutting their funding disproportionately affects lower income women.
That access to birth control lowers the need for abortions is obvious to everyone except those who oppose abortion, the same people who are leading the charge to cut funds for preventive services.
The Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010, with free or very low cost birth control services being a key part of the law.
Because of this improved access to birth control, by 2014, the number of abortions in the U.S. dropped below 1 million for the first time since 1975.
The topic of abortion provokes emotional reactions. I hope we can all put our emotions aside and realize that women’s access to family planning and preventive services benefits us all.
Our states are becoming less united.
A country that is united in caring about its women makes sure they have access to all female health care needs, regardless of what state she lives in, her skin color, or her income.
Our great state of California needs to line up with other states’ efforts to guarantee funding for these essential health services for women.
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