Well, it’s only appropriate that since women’s health was the focus of a relentless legislative assault by Republicans that Democrats would offer up a week-long celebration to it.
President Obama declared May 13th through May 19th will now be known as National Women’s Health Week, a time to “celebrate the progress we have made in protecting women’s health and to promote awareness, prevention, and educational activities that improve the health of all women,” he said in a statement.
The effort combines two important needs for President Obama and Democrats as the 2012 election nears: the need to court female voters and the need to aggressively defend health care reform.
The President’s remarks strike that balance.
As President, I have made advancing gender equality in health care a top priority. Through the historic Affordable Care Act, we are reversing many of the worst abuses of the health insurance industry. Beginning in 2014, many insurers will no longer be allowed to charge women higher premiums simply because of their gender, and it will be illegal for most insurance companies to deny coverage to women because they have a pre-existing condition, including cancer or pregnancy. Health plans will also be required to cover maternity care. The law already enables women in new insurance plans to see any primary care provider or OB-GYN, or bring their children to any pediatrician in their health plan’s network without a referral, and it prevents most insurance companies from denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions.
While largely symbolic, the President’s remarks do show the stark difference facing women voters this fall. But unfortunately they also show that women’s health will remain a political issue for the foreseeable future. Republicans are not backing down on efforts to strip women of reproductive and economic rights and until they do we need all the awareness raising we can get.
Photo from Intel Photos via flickr.
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