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From the desk of ... Judith Selzer, Repro Health Watch

Women's Health Coverage Under Attack in Florida

October 17, 2012 | Reproductive Health

Judith Selzer, VP of Public Policy & Communications, Fla. Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates

This blog post was published in conjunction with Repro Health Watch, an exciting new edition of the Women's Health Policy Report, which compiles and distributes media coverage of proposed and enacted state laws, ballot initiatives and litigation affecting women's access to comprehensive reproductive health care.

We're in the heat of battle in Florida as we fight Amendment 6, which was referred by the Florida Legislature to the November 6th general election ballot. If passed, it could allow politicians to interfere with a woman's personal health care decisions by depriving some women, such as nurses, teachers and other public employees, of access to the health insurance coverage they have today. It's another battle in the war on women's health.

Dr. Suzie Prabhakaran's story: For me, this issue hits very close to home. I had a patient who was diagnosed with cancer after she learned she was pregnant. She needed to start chemotherapy right away to protect her health, but to do so I advised her she would need to end her pregnancy. If Amendment 6 were to pass, health plans would not be able to cover the care my next patient in this situation needs. This kind of political interference may serve a certain political agenda but it would be extremely harmful to my patients.

Amendment 6 puts politicians in charge of women's personal medical decisions and makes no exceptions for women's health.

Every woman knows that sometimes things go tragically wrong with a pregnancy. When problems do occur, a woman and her family deserve all the medically available options. If passed, Amendment 6 could force a woman who faces tough decisions, because of a severe fetal abnormality or a cancer diagnosis, to deal with the added strain of figuring out how to pay for the medical care she needs - even though she has health insurance.

It is especially cruel that politicians want to put a financial burden on a woman who is already struggling through a terrible tragedy.

Nationally recognized women's health care advocate Sandra Fluke is adding her influential voice to the growing chorus of opposition to Amendment 6. Editorial boards, faith leaders, doctors and trusted voices including Catholics for Choice, the League of Women Voters and the NAACP, are speaking out about why they are urging a "No" vote on Amendment 6.

The dangers of Amendment 6 are gaining national attention with a recent blog in Ms. Magazine, coverage by the New York Times and NBC and opposition from influential advocates such as Fluke.

Let's be very clear about who will suffer if Amendment 6 passes: teachers, nurses, firefighters and other women who are dedicated public servants could lose access to the health care they currently have. It's bad enough that two million Florida women don't have health insurance. It is unconscionable that politicians are trying to cut coverage for women who have it.

The last thing any woman wants or needs is to have politicians in the middle of personal medical decisions - especially during a health crisis. Amendment 6 will throw open the doors to doctors' exam rooms - exposing patients to the judgment of politicians when what they really need is the professional care of their physicians and the loving support of their family and friends.

Florida women don't want politicians interfering with our health care decisions.

We're fighting hard to defeat Amendment 6 - and we could use your help. Please spread the word to your family and friends in Florida and ask them to vote "NO" on 6!

Judith Selzer is Vice President of Public Policy & Communications for the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates.


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