National Commentary

Congressman Moran’s News Commentary

Unfortunately, in this Congress, we have seen a surge in attitudes and legislation to restrict access to women’s health. Notably, in the budget debates, the Republican efforts to ban federal funding for Planned Parenthood nearly led the Federal Government shutting down. Regardless of ideological differences, all can agree that Planned Parenthood clinics provide critical services that keep women healthy.

May is designated as women’s health month, a reminder of the importance of preventative care in ensuring our sisters, daughters, mothers, spouses, and friends lead healthy, happy lives.

Each year, a host of disorders and illnesses like breast and cervical cancer disproportionately affect women. Yearly check-ups and screenings can catch diseases early and lead to better and more successful treatment.

Effective preventive medicine relies on access to health care. Passed last year, the Affordable Care Act will make great strides in expanding health care access to women through providing free coverage of preventive services and prohibiting insurance companies from “gender rating” which leads to drastically higher premiums for women.

Unfortunately, in this Congress, we have seen a surge in attitudes and legislation to restrict access to women’s health. Notably, in the budget debates, the Republican efforts to ban federal funding for Planned Parenthood nearly led the Federal Government shutting down. Regardless of ideological differences, all can agree that Planned Parenthood clinics provide critical services that keep women healthy.

With more than 800 health centers across the country, one in five women in the U.S. has visited a Planned Parenthood health center at least once in her life. Each year, Planned Parenthood provides nearly one million Pap tests and more than 830,000 breast exams. In Virginia alone, these clinics see over 28,500 patients a year.

This week, the House of Representatives is debating legislation that would limit private health insurance benefits to women through severe restrictions on abortions provided as part of comprehensive health coverage. Not only would this legislation, H.R. 3, not pass the Senate or be signed into law by the President, it would effectively raise taxes on small businesses and individuals through eliminating health care tax credits and deductions.

Already a part of federal law is the Hyde amendment, which prohibits the use of federal funds for abortion, except in the cases of rape, incest or life endangerment of the mother. H.R. 3 would narrow this restriction to prohibit deductions or tax credits for abortions necessary because a woman faces severe and permanent health risks that could shorten her life due to conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, and cancer.

At a time when our nation’s economy is fragile and unemployment remains unacceptably high, waging a fight against women’s health is unwise and just plain wrong-headed. Spending the first week of May targeting treatment for women will not balance the budget and it will not create jobs. What it will do is harm the thing we recognize this month: women’s health. Instead of limiting health care for millions of women, we need to recommit our efforts to increasing access to preventative care and medical research.


Rep. James Moran (D) is Virginia’s 8th Congressional District Representative in the U.S. House of Representatives.