When health care reform passed the House of Representatives in 2010, we knew it wouldn’t be an easy road. But we never imagined that Congress would vote more than 40 times to repeal Obamacare. Nor did we ever think the House of Representatives would vote to shut down the government unless the full enactment of Obamacare was delayed for a year — and employers were allowed to opt out of health plans that include contraception. Sadly, that is exactly what happened in our nation’s capital just days ago.
The attack on women’s health extends beyond contraception. If House conservatives have their way, employers could site “moral objections” in order to opt out of insurance plans that include HPV immunization and screening, breastfeeding support, domestic violence counseling, and HIV testing. Not surprisingly, these plans do not undermine care for men’s health, such as prostate exams.
Although the government shut-down does not directly affect Planned Parenthood, we are deeply troubled that our elected officials are using women’s health to play political games. In fact, I am outraged that some representatives seem to care more about their political careers than they do serving the women and men who want — and need — health care coverage. Planned Parenthood has been a staunch supporter of the Affordable Care Act and has stood behind our women’s health leaders in Congress who have advocated for essential health benefits, such as birth control and preventive health screening for women, without a co-pay. Obamacare is already working for millions of women, and can make a life-saving difference for even more people.
Women’s access to health care is not a bargaining chip and we cannot allow the political agenda of anti-women’s health members of Congress to overshadow the need of millions of women who deserve equal access to reproductive health care. Rest assured, Planned Parenthood is working tirelessly to defend access to reproductive and sexual health care, and ensure that men and women receive the care they deserve.
DiGiorgio Johnson is president and CEO Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest.