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Health Care Reform: Women's Health Care In Jeopardy?

July 15. 2009

ST. LOUIS - A lot of amendments have been attached to the health care reform bills being finalized this month in Washington, and several of those amendments have concerned people on all sides watching closely. One in particular, known as the Women's Health Amendment, would increase access to primary preventive care and would support clinics that are often the only source of health care for low-income women, such as Planned Parenthood. The amendment does not include coverage for abortions, but critics claim that it would.

Paula Gianino with Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region says misinformation threatens to derail health care reform and to hurt women.

"We believe that health care reform must strengthen and protect women's health care. Certainly it must not weaken it. And we believe that women's health care has to be a priority."

Although the Women's Health Amendment has passed, Gianino say there are other amendments that could raise even bigger concerns down the line. She worries that inflammatory and misleading rhetoric, particularly around the abortion issue, could lead to reduced access to women's health services.

"That would be a huge setback for women in America."

Gianino says expanding coverage to women, especially in low-income areas, is a matter of public health, since women have higher health care costs than men, partly because of reproductive-health-related needs.

Heather Claybrook, Public News Service - MO