Why We Still Need to Fight for Women's Health Care
Women’s health continues to be a hot button political issue in 2017. Following Trump’s inauguration, millions of men and women took to the streets for the Women’s March on Washington, protesting a number of issues, including access to healthcare and reproductive rights.
It's no surprise why people showed up in such large numbers. Throughout the campaign trail, Donald Trump expressed plans to repeal the ACA and defund Planned Parenthood, which would put many women's lives and reproductive health at risk.
Healthcare providers are becoming more and more concerned about the impacts that these policies may have on women's health, especially those doctors and nurses who work with with the female populous. For patients who rely on medicaid or Planned Parenthood to provide the health care services that they need, these policy changes can be life threatening.
With Republicans aiming to defund Planned Parenthood, and repeal the ACA, the U.S. is on track to become the least healthy developed nation in the world. It's a trend that many doctors and medical professionals are trying to prevent from happening.
"We want women to have access to anything they need to make the right choices for their bodies," fourth-year medical student Katie MacMillan writes.
Although the ACA is not without its flaws, repealing the legislation entirely poses disastrous consequences for a variety of people who rely on this coverage to meet their most basic medical needs. By targeting the ACA in particular, women, the elderly, the disabled, and millennials may be losing access to care.
Of course, this isn't the first time that women's healthcare has garnered national attention. Women's health has been a hot button issue for decades. Reproductive rights in particular receive an undue amount of scrutiny.
In 2011, for example, "Issues related to reproductive health received unprecedented attention . . . In the 50 states combined, legislators introduced more than 1,100 reproductive health and rights-related provisions." Many of these provisions restricted access to abortion services.
Conservative congress members have also spread misinformation about the dangers of birth control. In 2012, a New Hampshire lawmaker asserted that the government should not require health insurance companies to provide contraception for women because she asserted that birth control causes prostate cancer.
While it is true that some forms of birth control can have potential negative side effects, Notter's statements were misleading, at best. The author of the study she cited later told ABC news, "This is just a hypothesis-generating idea. Women should not be throwing away the pill because of this."
Though these are recent examples, the fight for reproductive access has been going in since the 1800s, when the Comstock Act prohibited advertisements, information, and distribution of birth control, and allowed the postal service to seize and confiscate birth control sold through the mail. Through the work of second wave feminists in the 1960s and 70s, women won the right to choose, but the fight isn't over.
"Right now, women's health is in greater danger than it has been at any time in the last 3 or 4 decades," Kyle Ragins M.D. tells Medscape Medical News.
This is, in part, what makes these recent protests so important. Throughout U.S. and world history, women have had to consistently fight for their rights and autonomy over their own bodies. By repealing the ACA and defunding Planned Parenthood, legislators and politicians are effectively taking steps to ensure that women no longer have the autonomy and choice that they have fought so hard to obtain.Posted by DanikaK at March 22, 2017 1:30 PM