GUEST COMMENTARY: Don't let politics harm women's health

2012-11-04T00:00:00Z GUEST COMMENTARY: Don't let politics harm women's healthBy Kathy Davis nwitimes.com
November 04, 2012 12:00 am  • 

This is it, two days to Election Day. We've heard a lot about why our vote is so important this election season. It’s time to make it personal and talk to family, friends, and neighbors about voting.

Job growth, educational opportunities and bipartisan problem-solving have rightfully risen to the top of why we need to get to the polls on – or before – Nov. 6.

Women’s health care has been among the hot topics too. With Breast Cancer Awareness Month having just wrapped up, this is one more issue to consider with Election Day on the horizon.

Like many illnesses, breast cancer is most treatable if it’s caught early. And the key to early detection is being able to see a health care provider.

Clinical breasts exams are the first line of defense in detecting breast cancer. An OB/GYN provides exams in his or her office; your local Planned Parenthood of Indiana health center offers them as well.

PPIN provided about 15,000 breast exams to women last year. That means 15,000 women were treated by a health care professional who gave them a clean bill of health, or referred them for the next crucial step in early detection: a mammogram.

Here’s where political hostility toward women’s health care rears its head.

Some politicians want to restrict access to health care for women by doing away with Planned Parenthood, making it more difficult for Hoosier women to get a breast exam, Pap test, birth control or STD testing and treatment.

As a breast cancer survivor, I have lived the importance of not playing games with women’s health care. My cancer was caught early. I am a small business owner, and fortunately my husband’s health insurance covered the costs of my exams and mastectomies. Others in Indiana are not so fortunate. Planned Parenthood helps those who can’t pay those bills. Often when a woman sees a PPIN health care professional, it’s the only provider she ever visits.

I think we agree that women don’t turn to politicians for advice about their breast health or birth control. It is women and not politicians who should make decisions about our health care.

Please take the time to learn about your candidates and where they stand on women’s health care. Do they acknowledge the truth -- that no federal funds are ever used for abortions? Do they value preventive services? Or would they take away health care purely for political theater?

Please be sure to vote on Nov. 6, and pass it along.

Former Indiana Lt. Gov. Kathy Davis is a breast cancer survivor. The opinion expressed in this column is the writer's and not necessarily that of The Times.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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