Health Care Reform and Reproductive Health

In an op-ed for the Saturday Delaware County Daily Times, Dayle Steinberg offers a clear-headed and thorough explanation for why health care reform needs to pay special attention to women’s health. Steinberg, who is President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southeastern PA, points out that current basic packages often do not cover medications and procedures important to women’s health: “Family planning and related services are still not guaranteed inclusion in mainstream health plans — despite the fact that 98 percent of women use some form of contraception in their lifetime.”

Other procedures specific to women are often not covered, reflecting, perhaps, the lingering traces of male dominance that permeate many social structures, including the health care industry. “Women of childbearing age spend 68 percent more in health-care costs than do men,” writes Steinberg, “mostly due to reproductive health-related needs.” This is clearly unacceptable.

On a related note, an editorial in the Erie Times calls for poverty and teen pregnancy to be recognized and dealt with as connected issues, as both worsen in Erie. The editorial refuses to blame one scapegoat, acknowledging that many factors cause rates of teen pregnancy to rise. However, it is not a stretch to say that free or low-cost contraception would help prevent many pregnancies. In addition, free or low-cost reproductive health related services at all stages of life could be one way to help women break free of the “vicious cycle of poverty” that can start with an unplanned pregnancy.

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The Women's Law Project creates a more just and equitable society by advancing the rights and status of all women throughout their lives. To this end, we engage in high-impact litigation, advocacy, and education.
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