As we cross the halfway mark of Women's History Month, it's worth taking time to celebrate the enormous strides the Affordable Care Act has made for working women and their families:
- The Affordable Care Act ends the unfair practice of charging women 150 times more than more for their healthcare. It means that Cesarean sections and domestic violence can no longer count as pre-existing conditions.
- More than 20 million women received preventive services, such as mammograms, pap smears and well-woman yearly visits without a copay.
- All new health plans will be required to provide maternity and newborn care as essential healthcare benefits
- And of course, starting this August most health insurance plans will be required to provide contraceptive coverage to women with no-cost sharing or copays.
But even as we celebrate the strides we've made in securing a better future for all women throughout this month, one thing is clear: there is still a lot of work to be done.
Right-wing extremists are doing their best to undo hard-won victories for women through an alarming resurgence of attacks on women's health and reproductive rights.
These attacks are playing out through legal challenges before the U.S. Supreme Court, repeated attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act in the House and Senate, and front page news coverage of these not-so-friendly-to-women-sentiments being expressed by lawmakers. Just this year, we've had federal legislation that would've forced women to surrender control of their own health decisions to their bosses and state-level legislation subjecting women to forced, unnecessary and costly reproductive tests. Most recently, a popular conservative radio show host called a female law school student a "slut" for speaking out in support of no-cost access to birth control.
Being a woman is no longer a pre-existing condition, thanks to the Affordable Care Act. But given the "controversies" created by male lawmakers, politicians and religious leaders around women's reproductive health rights recently, a new question has arisen from the right wing discourse: Are Women People? In a fact-filled but hilarious piece for Time.com, writer Jessica Winters satirically explores this conundrum.
"All my adult life, I've been pretty sure I'm a sentient, even semi-competent human being. I have a job and an apartment; I know how to read and vote; I make regular, mostly autonomous decisions about what to eat for lunch and which cat videos I will watch whilst eating my lunch. But in the past couple of months, certain powerful figures in media and politics have cracked open that certitude."
As right-wing politicians continue to ramp up their efforts to undermine women's access to contraception and other preventative health services, we think Women's History Month is the perfect time to challenge Americans across the map to contribute in their own way to ensuring justice in women's health care.
Stand up against assaults on women's rights
How is it that in 2012, basic healthcare for women has become a political football? It's got to stop.
Taking away access to preventive healthcare by eviscerating the Affordable Care Act would be disastrous for all Americans, especially women, as it would include taking away the expansion of birth control coverage with no co-pay that is set to be implemented on August 1, 2012.
Help change the public discourse around women's health by raising your voice online using Facebook and Twitter. Share the image below on your Facebook page and on Twitter to ensure the people in your life understand why the Affordable Care Act is worth defending.
Download the image here.
SEIU and progressives allies will continue to be at the forefront of fighting for women and their families every day of the year, and we hope you'll join us: http://action.seiu.org/page/s/fightforhealth