Lia Kozatch: Health coverage matters for women and for all |

Lia Kozatch: Health coverage matters for women and for all

Women's bodies and access to health care are a perennial political battleground in the U.S. This is the only developed country on the planet with no universal health coverage and one of only a few with no guaranteed paid maternity, paternity or family leave.

Compared to women in Canada or Europe, it's harder for Americans to take time off work to see a doctor, get affordable childcare or spend critical time with their infant without risk of being let go from their jobs. Why do American women, especially African-American and Latinas, have a shockingly high risk of dying in childbirth? Our health just isn't valued here. Period.

President Trump and the Republican-led Congress have made some remarkable moves to reshape women's health law and policy and curtail hard-fought access to reproductive health care and family planning services. From rolling back the Obama-era birth control mandate to chipping away at Medicaid, which covers half of all births in this country, to attempting to limit access to abortions, this is a sad moment for women's health in US history.

The Trump administration's full impact on women's health remains to be seen. Cutting funding for Planned Parenthood didn't happen last year, but it remains a priority for social conservatives in Congress — and a priority for the Trump administration. It's something that continues to boggle my mind.

Almost all the people opposing Planned Parenthood have never gone in to one to use their services. Most of my friends, and myself, have gone in for health care services, not abortions. Not all Planned Parenthood locations offer abortions, so to cut funding for what is basically a women's health care clinic that provides primary or additional services not provided by health insurance is absurd.

In addition to bills to roll back access to abortion for women, there is now an entire office dedicated to protecting providers who want to refuse to perform abortions, and it opened once Trump took office. Health and Human Services recently announced a new "Conscience and Religious Freedom" office to "vigorously uphold the rights of conscience and religious freedom," says acting HHS Secretary Eric Hargan.

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The move reverses Obama-era rules that barred health care workers from denying coverage for transgender patients or those seeking abortions. Why should we punish those who need health access?

Over the coming year, women will continue to have much at stake in the outcomes of the health care debates that are being considered in Denver and Washington D.C. I ask that you let our Congressional representatives at the state and national levels know that woman's heath care matters to you.

Lia Kozatch