Each New Year brings new hope and opportunity: a fresh start. It’s a time to look forward and of course, a time to make some resolutions. While our resolution remains the same as always—to protect women’s rights and make sure millions of women, men, and young people can continue to rely on Planned Parenthood for affordable, quality care—we’d like to suggest a few resolutions that politicians may want to embrace in the New Year.
Here are our top three resolutions we’d like all politicians to aim for in 2014:
- Resolve to support family planning programs and follow the mantra that all women deserve affordable access to birth control.
All women deserve affordable access to birth control—no matter where they work. But unfortunately, the issue has become increasingly politicized as a small group of politicians and for-profit companies have been working to deny women access to this basic preventive care. There’s a reason the nonpartisan Institute of Medicine recommended that birth control be covered under the Affordable Care Act as preventive care. Ninety-nine percent of women between the ages of 15 and 44 who are sexually active have used birth control at some point in their lives, while 58 percent of women who take the pill take it at least in part for medical reasons other than pregnancy prevention, including managing endometriosis, ovarian cysts, and other medical conditions.
Birth control has enabled millions of women to support themselves financially, complete their educations, pursue their goals, and plan their families. So instead of trying to prevent women from accessing birth control, we hope that politicians will (finally) understand its important medical and economic benefits to women—and stop attacking women’s access to preventive care in 2014.
- Realize that Obamacare is the law of the land and resolve to stop attacking it.
President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law in March 2010, but over the last three years politicians have done their darnedest—including shutting down the government— to repeal, delay, and derail the implementation of Obamacare. And while these politicians have been busy trying to chip away at the law, millions of women, men, and families have been benefiting from it—whether through improvements to their existing health care coverage, or by becoming eligible for new plans. Already more than 2.1 million people have signed up for health insurance under the new state exchanges—and that’s not to mention the millions more who will benefit throughout their lives thanks to the law’s ending of bad practices like being able to deny health insurance based on pre-existing conditions.
Obamacare is working, and politicians should resolve to help make the law work, rather than attack it.
- Resolve to stay out of the personal and private decisions best left up to a woman, her family, her faith and her doctor.
According to a recent report by the Guttmacher Institute, more abortion restrictions were enacted in 2011-2013 than in the entire previous decade. Whether restricting access to abortion, delaying the procedure so it’s later in pregnancy, making it harder for women to get birth control, or blocking women from lifesaving cancer screenings and wellness exams, the list of attacks on women’s health is appallingly long. Despite the fact that 70 percent of Americans oppose efforts to overturn Roe v. Wade, politicians pursued this extreme agenda, even bending and breaking the rules—calling special legislative sessions, using procedural sneak tactics, and casting votes in the dark of night—to get their out-of-touch legislation passed. The result? 70 new laws enacted in 22 states to restrict access to abortion, and 56 percent of American women of reproductive age living in states that restrict their access to reproductive health care. Many of these laws put women into heartbreaking and unimaginable circumstances, and don’t advance women’s health or safety.
With the new year, politicians have a chance to stop breaking records for the number of restrictions on women’s health and start protecting a woman’s right to make her own medical decisions. There might be a lot we disagree on, but keeping politics out of the exam room is something we can and should support.
Sure, it might be a lot to ask from politicians who have consistently fought medical expertise, common sense, and public opinion to pursue their anti-women's health agendas—but we're hopeful for a fresh start. Here's to 2014!