By Cathy Alderman
Women pay attention: your health is on the ballot this fall.
In every race, voters will choose either to continue moving forward towards equality or to wind the clock back on women’s health. We have the choice between candidates who support a woman’s right to access birth control and candidates who oppose it and in many cases want to ban abortion out-right with no exceptions for rape or incest.
Your vote is more important than ever. Who you elect will steer our state down the path they think is best.
Women’s access to affordable health care is an economic issue as well as one of equality. Because of reliable and affordable sources of contraception, women are able to pursue educational and professional goals, making it possible to continue their education and financially support their households.
Colorado has a long history of advancing the role of women in society by both protecting and advancing access to reproductive and sexual health services beginning in 1916.
By the mid-1960s the Colorado Legislature had passed legislation that provided funding for contraceptive services. Momentum for women’s rights continued in 2010 when Colorado required insurance plans to cover reproductive health services including pregnancy.
Flash forward to today to see the results of allowing women to fully participate in society – women now make up half of the nation’s workforce and 60 percent of women are primary breadwinners for their family.
Access to women’s health care faced unprecedented battles in 2012. In Colorado, the Senate tried to pass a resolution that would have put Colorado on record as opposing health insurance coverage for any service to which employers or insurers object.
Enacting the federal legislation could mean denying coverage not only for birth control but also mammograms – anything to which the employer or insurer has a moral objection. Luckily common sense prevailed and the backwards legislation was defeated.
As Election Day gets closer, some candidates are dodging the questions. And too often, political pundits classify women’s health as a social issue, diminishing the impact of the subject as it pertains to the greater health and well-being of our country.
Investing in women’s health is one of the best economic investments we can make. It boosts families in every way. It’s also a good public investment; every dollar spent on family planning saves a minimum of four tax dollars.
An estimated 99 percent of American women will use contraceptives at some point in their lives. Women know, and public health policy agrees, that choosing when and whether to have children, and spacing the birth of children is a healthy decision for both the woman and her family.
Yet the cost of birth control can be a challenge for many women: each year it is the equivalent of five weeks of groceries for a family of four, nine tanks of gas in a minivan, or one semester of college textbooks.
This is why your vote matters.
In November, you get to decide which path you’d like to see Colorado follow into the future.
We’ll be watching four races very closely next Tuesday. Four of these candidates have stood up for women time and time again. Four of these candidates believe that women should be able to make their own health care decisions. These same four candidates believe that women should not be charged more or denied coverage for life-saving cancer screenings, birth control and maternity care.
That’s why Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado endorsed Evie Hudak (SD19), Linda Newell (SD 26), Pete Lee (HD18), and Mike McLachlan (HD 59) for the Colorado General Assembly. Their opponents would choose insurance companies over women and that is not a Colorado value.
If you care about the future for your daughter, granddaughter, niece or friend, join us in our commitment to hold the candidates in your district accountable for what they have said.
To stay up to date, even if you are already at the polls, Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado has introduced a Mobile Voter Guide, which will help voters in Colorado make informed decisions about which candidates to vote for based on where they stand on pivotal health care issues.
Cathy Alderman is vice president of public affairs for Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado.