SENATE PASSES SHAHEEN BUDGET AMENDMENT PROTECTING WOMENS HEALTH CARE ACCESS

Amendment promotes and protects women’s access to reproductive care, passes 56-43

March 22, 2013

(Washington, DC) – This afternoon the U.S. Senate passed Senator Jeanne’s (D-NH) budget amendment (#438) that would protect women’s access to primary, preventative and reproductive health care by a vote of 56-43.  Shaheen’s amendment would establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund to protect a woman’s access to health care, including primary and preventive health care, family planning and birth control, and employer-provided contraceptive coverage, such as the access that is provided under the Affordable Care Act.

Earlier today, Shaheen took to the Senate floor to urge her colleagues to support the measure. In her remarks, Shaheen noted that women should make family planning decisions with their doctors and their families and those decisions shouldn’t be dictated by their employers.

Below is video and Shaheen’s remarks as prepared for delivery:

Mr. President.  In the three years since the Affordable Care Act was passed, women’s access to affordable health care has improved. 

Women now have access to a wide range of preventive service--  things like well woman appointments, screenings for cancer, diabetes and HIV and counseling for domestic violence-- at no cost.  

And all women now have access to contraception coverage for free through their insurance plans.  

Ninety-nine percent of women report that they have used birth control at some point in their lives, and access to birth control is directly linked to declines in maternal and infant mortality, can reduce the risk of ovarian cancer and is linked to overall good health outcomes.   

The United States has one of the highest rates of unintended pregnancies in the industrialized world, and preventing unintended pregnancies makes fiscal sense.   Studies have found that medical services to women who experience unintended pregnancies and to infants who are born as a result of such pregnancies, can cost taxpayers up to $12 billion annually.

My state of New Hampshire has one of the lowest teen birth rates in the country.  As Governor, I signed a law requiring health care plans to cover contraception.   Accessible family planning matters and can make a difference. 

Despite the research that shows that investments in women’s health make sense, we continue to see efforts to deprive women from receiving the most basic of care.

The amendment I have offered today will protect women’s access to primary and preventive health care, family planning and birth control.

At the most basic level, this amendment ensures that a woman’s family planning decision is one she makes with her doctor and her family, and is not dictated by her boss. 

Improving access to preventive care, including contraception, is good health policy and good economic policy.  It means healthier women, healthier children and healthier families.  I urge you to support my amendment.

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