Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Obama Presidency: One Hundred Days of Progress for Women’s Health

(St. Paul) Since taking office, the president has shown his commitment to women’s health care on a wide range of issues, from repealing the global gag rule, restating his commitment to protecting women’s reproductive health and rights, creating a White House Council on Women and Girls, expanding access to affordable birth control, and calling for evidence-based, medically accurate sex education.

“It’s been a tremendous 100 days for those of us committed to strengthening women’s health care and ensuring that young people have the information and care they need to become healthy and productive adults. Health care decisions are now being driven by sound science and not political ideology,” said PPMNS President and CEO Sarah Stoesz.

“The president’s determination to make women’s health a priority is vitally important, given that America currently leads the most developed countries in the world in the rate of teenage pregnancies, at least one in four teenage girls has a sexually transmitted infection that could alter the course of her life, and an estimated 750,000 teenagers will become pregnant this year,” Stoesz said.

To mark the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, President Obama issued a strong statement in support of women’s health, saying, “We are united in our determination to prevent unintended pregnancies, reduce the need for abortion, and support women and families in the choices they make. To accomplish these goals, we must work to find common ground to expand access to affordable contraception, accurate health information, and preventative services.”
These tough economic times are especially difficult for women struggling to pay for basic health care. According to the Women's Research and Education Institute, women of childbearing age spend 68 percent more in out-of-pocket health care costs than men, in part because of reproductive health-related supplies and services.

Americans are doing the best they can to make healthy decisions that protect themselves and their families, but a new study from the Center for American Progress indicates 14,000 Americans are losing health coverage every day, making access to basic reproductive health care more important than ever.

“As the region’s most trusted reproductive health care provider and advocate, Planned Parenthood is committed to ensuring that all Americans have access to the quality, affordable health care services they deserve,” said Stoesz.

President Obama’s First 100 Days: A Summary
  • Health Care Reform — President Obama convened the White House Forum on Health Care Reform, signaling his commitment to ensuring every American has access to quality, affordable health care.
  • Affordable Birth Control —The president signed legislation to restore access to affordable birth control for millions of college students and low-income women, and help ensure access to affordable contraception for millions of women, especially in these tough economic times.
  • Budget Priorities — In his proposed budget, the president included a commonsense Medicaid waiver to expand family planning under Medicaid and called for evidence-based, medically accurate sex education.
  • Global Gag Rule —President Obama overturned the global gag rule and once again allowed millions of women around the world access to critical reproductive health care services.
  • HHS Midnight Rule — The Obama administration began the process of rescinding the Bush administration’s midnight HHS regulation that limits the rights of patients to receive complete and accurate health care information and services.
  • Secretary of State — With the appointment of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, President Obama signaled his commitment to approach the issues of women’s health and rights, family planning, and global poverty with the seriousness and commitment they deserve. Secretary Clinton understands that improving the status of women is not simply a moral imperative; it is necessary to building democracies around the globe.
  • Health and Human Services Secretary — The president, nominated longtime champion of women’s health, Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, to be the secretary of HHS. Governor Sebelius has been a strong advocate for health care reform and has a proven track record of supporting increased access to affordable health care and commonsense prevention policies that improve health outcomes.
  • White House Council on Women and Girls — The president established the White House Council on Women and Girls to focus on a wide range of issues facing American women and their families, including the high rate of unintended pregnancies and the alarming number of sexually transmitted infections.
  • Plan B — Under the Obama administration, the FDA now supports over-the-counter access to Plan B (emergency contraception) for women 17 years and older.
  • AIDS Outreach — President Obama has made a strong commitment to developing a comprehensive national HIV/AIDS strategy that includes all federal agencies. The strategy will be designed to reduce the number of HIV infections, increase access to health care, and reduce HIV-related health disparities to address the growing HIV/AIDS crisis among women and girls in the United States.

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