President Obama declared this week as women’s health week, and though we too often hear about the attacks on women’s health, it seems like a good time to think about the positive measures in Congress — be them very few — to protect women’s health.
Believe it or not, Congress does have a few bills out there that are protections of women’s health, instead of attacks on it. So here are the top three bills in Congress aimed at protecting women’s health:
– The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act aims to protect pregnant workers from discrimination in the workplace by ensuring that their employers cannot deny them necessities to their prenatal health. Mothers-to-be sometimes need a water bottle or a stool to sit on, particularly as they near their delivery date or if they have any complications with their pregnancy. Yet women have been fired to trying to access these necessities on the job. The bill, introduced by Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Susan Davis (D-CA) and George Miller (D-CA), requires employers to meet these needs.
– The Violence Against Women Act has been hotly debated in both the House and Senate, but at its core, it is a bill meant to safeguard women’s health. Unfortunately, rape and assault are a part of the health care that many women receive in their lives — roughly one in six women is sexually assaulted, and one in four experience domestic violence. VAWA protects victims of domestic violence so that incidents occur less frequently, but it also sets up rapid response for when those incidents do occur.
– The Protecting Women’s Access to Health Care Act is a Republican response to all of the attacks on Planned Parenthood. Introduced by Rep. Robert Dold (R-IL), the bill seeks to ensure that Planned Parenthood can not be denied funding under Title X, Congress’s family planning funding. Dold said, “We should not discriminate against hospitals and organizations that provide access to basic, preventative, and in some cases life-saving services.”
Aside from these legislative efforts, President Obama’s contraceptive mandate requires that employers provide contraception to their employees — an important step for improving women’s health and access to health care. So there is some good news for women’s health, with Democrats and some Republicans supporting legislation in favor of women’s interests. Now the nation will have to wait and see if Congress agrees to pass these measures.