Watching the debate with my colleagues from Planned Parenthood brought home what a historic step forward the Affordable Care Act was for women's health. I felt proud to hear President Obama defend this law and talk about the benefits and protections it delivers.
As a nurse for 25 years, I have seen the challenges and health risks for women and their families when they do not have access to the full range of health services- from contraception and maternity care to preventive check-ups and cancer screenings.
President Obama's healthcare law stopped the worst of insurance company abuses which included the outrageous practice of charging women more than men for the same insurance coverage, using Caesarean sections or domestic violence as pre-existing conditions to deny women healthcare, and dropping women's coverage if they got sick.
Governor Romney has taken a page from the radical Republican handbook supporting the Blunt Amendment which would allow corporations and businesses to deny coverage of health services - including contraception - to their employees on the basis of their personal moral objections. Romney also promises to repeal the Affordable Care Act on his first day in office. Taking away free preventive screening and maternity care, defunding Planned Parenthood and attempting to deny millions of women access to contraception is not a vision that builds toward a future healthy America.
The fact is birth control is a monthly expense that is significant for a working family, and it is among the most common medications taken by women of childbearing age. Contraceptive use is the rule, not the exception among women who can afford it--99 percent of women overall use birth control as some point in their lives. Since birth control use is nearly universal among women of child-bearing age, it makes no sense to continue to exempt birth control from insurance coverage. This policy does not have any religious underpinning; it is simply sound health policy.
President Obama's healthcare law laid out a vision for a better future for the health of all Americans-- no matter where they work or how much they make. Too often, working class women were unable to afford the co-pays for annual wellness visits, regular preventive screenings and family planning. The expansion of preventive coverage with no cost-sharing or deductibles will improve the lives and health of women across America and bring real economic and emotional relief to the millions of women who prior to the law, had nowhere to turn.
I spent a decade fighting for healthcare reform, and I will spend now through Election Day talking to voters to make sure we re-elect President Obama to defend the Affordable Care Act!