By Andrea Flynn

The Battle Over Women’s Health Is A Fight For Human Rights

December 5, 2012 2:14 pm Category: Memo Pad 16 Comments A+ / A-

The election is over, but the work of expanding and improving women’s access to quality health care is just beginning.

Last month, the United Nations declared access to family planning to be a universal human right that all member countries should respect, protect, and fulfill—a decidedly non-controversial concept for most of the developed world, and indeed not a novel concept for the UN or its members. That is, of course, with the exception of the United States, where human rights are mostly regarded as instruments for other countries to adopt and implement while considered quite unnecessary for our own advancement and well-being. So far are we from adopting a human rights framework at home that it’s hard to imagine what would happen if U.S. policymakers approached access to health care — and women’s health in particular — as a right akin to free speech, bearing arms, or practicing our religion. However, given our domestic women’s health crises, we could certainly benefit from adopting some outside perspectives on the right to health care.

Women’s health issues were front and center in the 2012 presidential campaign, garnering far more mainstream attention than in previous elections. From serious discussion in the primary and general election debates to thoroughly considered policy positions to uncensored public remarks, hot-button women’s health issues—rape, abortion, contraception—created a gender gap in the electorate to which many attribute President Obama’s victory. As we look toward the commencement of Obama’s second term, it’s clear that the president has numerous monumental challenges before him. But we must not let the protection of women’s health and rights be compromised by other priorities such as the fiscal cliff, the federal budget, or foreign policy crises.

Obama’s victory was a win for women in the short term because it averted the immediate decimation of women’s health funding and infrastructure promised by Romney and his Republican counterparts across the country. But the country needs a long-term win: one that will improve the lives of American women and girls for generations to come. Such a win will require the president’s unwavering determination to improve women’s access to health services and their health outcomes throughout the course of his second term. And it is the job of women and the people who love them to provide a constant reminder that he must deliver on his promises.

Our government should ensure that all women have access to affordable, quality health care not only because it is morally the right thing to do, but because it is the smart and necessary thing to do to strengthen the entire country. Critical indicators such as maternal mortality, teen pregnancy, and unintended pregnancy illustrate the high cost of treating women’s health care as a privilege instead of a right. The United States trails 49 other nations in a ranking of maternal deaths worldwide and has a teen pregnancy rate higher than almost all other industrialized countries. Moreover, nearly half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended. The data below illustrate how the health circumstances of women of color and low-income women have truly reached crisis proportions and demand immediate action.

These inequities in women’s health in the United States are shameful, are a violation of human rights, and are, of course, directly related to the quality and availability of family planning and reproductive health care. Obamacare is certainly a historic step in the right direction. It has already extended contraceptive coverage (including highly effective methods such as the IUD, hormonal implants, and injections) to more than a million young women, and by 2016 it will cover nearly 13 million more. It also mandates the inclusion of other critical services: one annual “well woman” visit to a primary care physician, access to emergency contraception (also known as the morning-after pill), HPV testing, screenings for STDs, screenings for gestational diabetes, and coverage for maternal health care, including breast-feeding support.

Despite the immediate improvements to women’s health and the long-term cost savings associated with expanded coverage, Obamacare faces a steep uphill battle. Twenty-seven states have filed suit against the president’s plan, challenging its constitutionality. Additionally, over the last year a number of states have attempted to defund Planned Parenthood and other facilities that provide information about, referrals for, or counseling on abortion (even though none of these providers actually perform abortions), threatening to dismantle an irreplaceable infrastructure that has provided millions of women across the country with critical health services.

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The Battle Over Women’s Health Is A Fight For Human Rights Reviewed by on . The election is over, but the work of expanding and improving women's access to quality health care is just beginning. Last month, the United Nations declared a The election is over, but the work of expanding and improving women's access to quality health care is just beginning. Last month, the United Nations declared a Rating:

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Comments

  • agnessue

    Women are perfectly capable of making their own decisions regarding their own bodies. All reproductive health care expenses should be covered by insurance. All prescriptions should be covered in drug insurance plans whether they are contraceptives or for you guys, what I like to call “get it up” drugs. We have a legal right in this country to obtain an abortion if we so chose, it is a medical procedure that should also be covered by insurance.
    If you are against abortion, don’t have one, that is your decision-not mine to make for you. That is the huge difference between pro-choice and pro-life. I respect your right to make your own decision, you refuse to respect mine.
    The Republican party says they are for a smaller less intrusive government. They lie.

    • lunibin

      The argument isn’t about who should or shouldn’t, rather why should I pay for your abortion and birth control. To a more exact point, why should I be accountable for your decisions?

      • Sand_Cat

        Because in lots of other ways, all the rest of us pay for your bad decisions, and it seems likely that you make a lot more of them than average.

        • lunibin

          Ahhh, the personal attack only proves your inability to argue the point. Besides I find it hard to exchange ideas with anyone who identifies themselves with a litter box.

          • Sand_Cat

            I think claiming that you are paying for someone’s abortion (and I believe you referred specifically to the commenter) is, of course, not a personal attack. And presenting factless rhetorical attack is – of course – OK if you do it, but god forbid anyone else return the favor.
            All of us pay for things we don’t approve of, and – as someone else already said, if you’re going to make it purely a money issue – it’s cheaper to pay for birth control and abortions than for the results of unwanted pregnancies and the abused children who result (their likely actions and upkeep).
            My guess is you support many things that cost tens or even hundreds or thousands of times more than the items you object to above, and probably most of them are as repugnant to me as are you with your high-handed snark , yet you obviously think I and everyone else who feels as I do should pay for them unless we hate America or are welfare millionaires parasitizing you personally.
            You are the one who has nothing to say here, or at least you haven’t shown any evidence that you do.

      • WhutHeSaid

        Nobody asked for you to pay for abortion, so you can drop that lie right off the bat.

        Birth control is a different issue, and the key here is that it’s common sense to prevent unwanted pregnancies, which cost FAR more than birth control and sometimes lead to that abortion that you need to use as an inflammatory tool to argue your nonsensical arguments.

        There are many things we pay for as preventative measures, and you support many of them. Why you decide to lie in order to promote bad policy is something you need to reconcile with yourself.

        • lunibin

          Actually, you are right nobody asked me to pay for abortion. It is taken from me in the form of taxes and soon to be ACA taxes.

          Is birth control really an issue with anyone? I can’t recall anyone ever not having access to birth control. I was 12 when I first gained access to birth control, not that I needed it except for bragging purposes.

          • WhutHeSaid

            Nobody *takes* money from you to fund abortions. It’s lies like these that show the entire country that you don’t have a valid point. Public funding for abortions is illegal, so it doesn’t happen.

            Yes, birth control really is an issue to millions of people. If you don’t need it or want it, fine — that’s your choice. See how easy that is? CHOICE

            You CHOOSE to try to force YOUR wishes on other people. Nobody is forcing you to have an abortion, so you are free to CHOOSE not to have one. You, however, have no right to force other people to NOT have one if they feel there is a legitimate reason for it. NOBODY *likes* abortions, but sometimes they are necessary. That’s THE LAW in case you didn’t know, and furthermore — even if it wasn’t THE LAW who do you think you are to force your wishes on others?

            Finally, if you REALLY wanted to prevent abortions you would support the highest level of availability possible for birth control. Since you don’t it’s clear that you don’t really care about abortions so much — you just want to be able to FORCE your wishes on other people. Get over yourself and quit telling your lies — nobody believes them.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jim-Myers/100001512942781 Jim Myers

        Replying to lunibin -

        Without condoning or condemning abortion, pro-choice about prevention and abortion are financially less expensive than the alternatives.

        We can spend a little to prevent an unwanted pregnancy, spend a little more to provide an abortion, or pay much more to provide the medical, educational, and all other costs associated with the results of an unwanted pregnancy.

        Not to mention the emotional, physical, and spiritual problems an unwanted child may suffer just because he or she IS unwanted.

        The pro-life movement is very near sighted on this subject.

      • johninPCFL

        “INSURANCE PLAN”, are you deaf?

        If you pay for medical insurance, it SHOULD COVER MEDICAL PROCEDURES. If it includes a drug coverage provision, it SHOULD COVER ANY PRESCRIPTIONS.

        Clear?

        • agnessue

          Thank you johninPCFL.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/ZJ5BBSQIGTUMERPZFALES6HQNY Bill

      Ignore “lunibin”. Thanks for a well written comment about women’s health issues. As a man I can get prescription for Viagra or Cialis and it is covered under my health insurance. Why not the same for women? In “lunibin’s vein” since insurance covers many procedures that are need as a result of an individual’s decision – smoking, overeating, drinking – shouldn’t these people also be responsible for their decisions and pay out of pocket for any procedure caused by these actions? Smoking, drinking and overeating are a lot more expensive to deal with in medical procedures and medication than an abortion is.

      Also agnessue you are 100% correct about the right wing “luni’s” they want less gov’t in business things but want to control what people do with their personal live.

      • lunibin

        I’m not talking about procedures that are covered by your personal health insurance. What you stated regarding personal responsibility is exactly what I’m trying to say. Clearly, the only way we as a people better ourselves is when we are held accountable for our actions. Insurance companies are more than capable of assigning risk to their policy holders and if you have a history of risky behavior your premiums will reflect it. In other words, if you want to live a certain life style then you and only you should pay for it.

  • nobsartist

    republiCONs just are not happy unless they can bully someone.

    republiCONs still beat their wives.

    • http://twitter.com/LostAnarchist S-3

      This. Oh, god – this. No matter we suck as a nation at handling domestic abuse and other or similar crimes involved.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4HKCTSVHCQJCJUU2VYCERLWWDE Richie T

    It took 42 years for the 19th amendment to get ratified and added to the Constitution. August 18, 1920
    It was a major change in how women are “treated” in this country. We still have a long way to go.

    “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

    Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”

    With all the B# the Republicans keep trying to pull regarding “women’s right’s’
    They need to realize something, more women then men vote.

    “abridge” is old English for limit

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