OUR State of the Union
By Miriam Berg | Jan. 20, 2015, 4:41 p.m.
Category: Birth Control, Voting
Tonight we’ll hear the president’s ideas on how to move the country forward, and his calls for action. That’s no surprise. After all, it’s his state of the union. And here’s ours.
Where We Are Today:
A Point of Progress
Gains in women's health have undeniably changed women’s lives. Across the last century, greater access to reproductive health care has helped women advance exponentially.
With the ability to plan our families and get the care we need, women are now better positioned to seize opportunities and reach our full potential. Just look at these three facts about birth control alone:
- The pill was responsible for about one-third of the increase in annual earnings among the first groups of women to gain legal access to it. Over the years, birth control's availability has led to higher employment, better careers, and economic freedom for women.
- Women are now a majority of undergraduate students in America, and the number of women who complete four or more years of college is five times what it was before birth control became legal.
- Women who have access to the pill at a younger age are 20 percent more likely to go to college and make more money later in life.
And all THAT has improved America as a whole. In fact, women’s advancement has been key to the country’s economic growth. Just consider this:
- Women-owned companies are the fastest growing type of new business, and women’s presence on corporate boards is tied to profits. Translation: Women help American businesses succeed.
- Children born to parents who had greater access to birth control have a 2-7 percent higher chance of finishing college and a 2-3 percent increase in their own income as adults. In other words: Women’s access to preventive health care helps the next generation succeed.
Our progress is real. But it is under attack.
We Will Not Go Backward
Despite the progress we’ve made, politicians in DC and in states across the country are trying to force themselves between women and their doctors. But we are fighting back. We’re calling for politicians to follow six basic values that are central to women’s freedom and opportunity:
- We all have the right to plan when and if to have a child.
- Doctors help decide our medical care — not politics or religious beliefs.
- Our rights shouldn't depend on who we are, where we work, or where we live.
- We all deserve access to sex education.
- We will not stand for coercion, harassment, or intimidation.
- Victims of sexual violence deserve care without delay, judgment, or intimidation.
Our future depends on access to comprehensive reproductive health care. That’s why we demand that these six basic principles guide those in power at all levels as they consider laws that impact women’s health.
But we know politicians can need a little handholding. So we’ve got more than our values to guide them.
Here’s Exactly What You Need to Do
to Move America Forward
Members of Congress need to remember one thing: If you push down half of the population, then you destroy your chances of economic growth and global competitiveness. It’s that simple.
So, if you want to unleash the potential of all American people, you need to protect women’s health. And here’s how to do it:
Defend access to safe, legal abortion.
You absolutely must reject the 20-week ban and the abortion provider restrictions in Congress right now. And while you’re at it, support the Women’s Health Protection Act to ensure that abortion is always safe and legal — in every state, in every zip code.
Stop attacking Obamacare and affordable birth control.
Through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), nearly 50 million women are getting a full range of preventive care with zero copay, including birth control. In just one year under the ACA, women saved $483 million on birth control pills alone. But to really make birth control affordable and accessible — over the counter and at the doctor’s office — it must remain fully covered by insurance with no copay. To recap: Do not repeal the ACA or water down its preventive care benefits.
Don’t defund Planned Parenthood. Instead, expand publicly funded family planning. Congress needs to protect Title X, a program that helps women and men without health insurance get contraception and other family planning services for free or at reduced cost. Planned Parenthood health centers alone provide care to nearly 1.8 million women served by Title X. The reality is that Title X saves women’s lives and prevents unintended pregnancies. It also saves the country money: For every public dollar that the country invests in family planning, taxpayers save $7.
Support medically accurate, age appropriate sex education.
Every young person in this country deserves the facts about sex. Teen pregnancy is at historic lows, but it still costs the United States $9.4 billion each year — and it can cost teenagers their futures. Comprehensive sex ed programs are proven to help reduce unintended pregnancy and STI rates. So, Congress needs to stop giving millions of dollars a year toward abstinence-only programs (which does not help reduce unintended pregnancy or STI rates).
Threats to Our Progress
Why is it so important for Congress to act? Because women — and this country — are at a critical moment. A slew of bills in Congress and in the states threaten to take women backward on health care access:
- Congress has introduced six federal bills that would restrict women’s access to reproductive health care nationwide. They include bills that would ban abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy, impose medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion providers, and block funding for Planned Parenthood (which would deny millions of men and women access to Planned Parenthood’s preventive health services).
- We’re also seeing attacks against women’s health in the states. Politicians in South Carolina and North Dakota are trying to ban abortion at six weeks, and bills in Colorado and Florida would ban abortion from the earliest moment in pregnancy — before many women even know they are pregnant. Meanwhile, a bill in Arkansas would ban it at 12 weeks.
Let’s get one thing straight: Politicians who are trying to erase women’s progress are on the wrong side of public opinion, and the wrong side of history. They are playing politics with women’s health. But women are watching. And we’re up for the challenge.
Are You with Us?
That’s what we need Congress to do. But we can’t do it alone. We need your help.
If you stand with us, if you stand for women’s health and the country’s progress, sign onto our values. And while you’re at it, tell your member of Congress to vote against the federal 20-week abortion ban.
Tags: Obamacare, State of the Union, SOTU, President Barack Obama, Obama Administration, 2015 State of the Union, 2015, Obama women's health care