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Where Will AZ Women End Up in Health Care Reform?

August 18, 2009

TUCSON, Ariz. - There is concern in some quarters that women in Arizona could be left behind as critics of reproductive health care grow louder in the health insurance reform debate.

Carol Bafaloukos, vice-president for medical services of Planned Parenthood-Arizona, is concerned that conservative activists are using the health care reform stage to undermine reproductive health care for women.

"We don't want this to be another way for the abortion issue to be coming forward. Many health plans at this time do cover abortion, and we certainly don't want that to be jeopardized for women either."

Conservatives argue that abortion should not be a part of any public health option. Planned Parenthood responds that even a public plan would be funded and paid for with private insurance premiums.

Bafaloukos says that for many women the only nurse or doctor that they may see is at a health center like Planned Parenthood or another community provider.

"If we can give women the tools that they need to control their reproductive health, in the long run that's going to be a benefit. We want women to be able to control their family size, to be on contraception, to be healthy, do their prevention exams."

Sari Stevens of Planned Parenthood is a new mother. She says actions taken now on health care reform will dictate what options the women of tomorrow, like her infant daughter, will have for health care.

"I want to be able to say to her whenever she can understand the basics of this debate, that her needs, when she will be a young woman, were not pushed aside."

Conservative critics have already forced President Obama to reconsider a public option and whether end-of-life counseling should be part of his national health plan.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ