Stop neglecting women’s healthcare and welfare

By Kaanan Raja

While women’s health is often neglected in talks between politicians, research institutions and even clinical settings, I never expected an esteemed medical school to jump on board as well.

This is exactly what happened when University of Missouri ended its 26 year relationship with Planned Parenthood, canceling all ten of its contracts with the family planning provider.

Before this decision, medical and nursing students were given the option to complete a training rotation in comprehensive women’s health care at local Planned Parenthood clinics.

Now, future physicians graduating from University of Missouri will no longer receive the option of gaining experience working in a center specifically designated for under-insured women, a setback in the progression for women’s health care.

This move was made during a state investigation into the organization after a series of heavily edited undercover videos were purported to show Planned Parenthood selling fetal parts after abortions.

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Despite the fact that multiple state investigations and a federal investigation into Planned Parenthood have so far turned up nothing, the University of Missouri decided to give in to government pressure and sent the message to the rest of the country that women’s health care, and especially for those uninsured, is not a serious priority. 

This decision sets a dangerous precedent for students and citizens alike.

As many of us are women, have mothers, sisters or may have daughters in the future, it is time to start treating the issue of women’s health care as a serious matter or it will continue to be pushed aside.

Basic health care, family planning and obstetric services are essential for women, yet are unavailable to many; in fact, approximately 19 million women in the U.S. are uninsured. Women are less likely than men to be insured through their own jobs — 35 percent versus 45 percent, respectively.

And women who are able to buy their own health insurance on the individual market often have to pay more than men for the same coverage.

That is why organizations like Planned Parenthood are so beneficial; the organization prides itself in providing a “commonsense approach to women’s health and well-being, based on respect for each individual’s right to make informed, independent decisions about health, sex, and family planning.” 

Many people overlook the fact that the PP provides so many non-abortion services such as precancerous screening, birth control, family planning, HPV and PAP tests and more. Further, the organization caters to women who are uninsured and those on Medicaid – basically patients who have the most difficulty finding doctors who can see them. 

With the talks of government de-funding and universities such as Mizzou cutting its affiliations with Planned Parenthood, there seems to be a blatant disregard of how all this could have major negative effects on women’s healthcare.

In 2013, Planned Parenthood treated over 2.7 million patients — patients who would otherwise not be able to gain access to quality healthcare had it not been for the organization. 

Our own Planned Parenthood in Champaign accepts drop-in appointments and provides care to anyone within the community ranging from University students to local residents. The center states that “with or without insurance, you can always come to us for your health care.” 

As approximately 40 percent of Champaign County residents are uninsured or receive Medicaid, it’s easy to see the benefit our local Planned Parenthood can provide for those who cannot access quality healthcare at their convenience.

With the large number of people that are helped by organizations such as Planned Parenthood, women’s health needs to be put on the forefront of political conversation and medical conversation alike.

Whether you consider yourself pro-life, pro-choice or somewhere in between, the topic of women’s health care cannot be clouded by political agendas and talks of government de-funding.

Having seen multiple family members battle through breast cancer and the amount of ignorance that surrounds topics like sexual assault, teen pregnancy and STDs from women my own age on a daily basis, women’s health is extremely important to me.

While progress in women’s healthcare in the U.S. has been substantial, we still have a long way to go to close the gap.

Kaanan is a sophomore in LAS.

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