President Obama and Voters Say Yes to Women's Health

President Obama and voters say yes to women's health.

In Her Words

The Election and Your Health

Voters – and President-elect Obama – say yes to women’s health

-Carrie Seim

Editor’s Note: The following is one Betty’s opinion. welcomes all opinions and doesn’t endorse any particular candidate or political party

President Barack ObamaIn addition to saying “Yes We Can” to President-elect Barack Obama, voters Nov. 4th said “No We Won’t” to three unsettling antiabortion measures that would have severely limited our reproductive freedom. 

With all the excitement over the historic election, it’s easy to forget there were a lot of other issues being voted on that day.

In Colorado, voters stomped down a particularly reprehensible initiative that would have granted fertilized eggs legal rights. The amendment, which was defeated 73 percent to 27 percent, could have “block[ed] stem cell research and in vitro fertilization … prevented doctors from providing lifesaving care to a woman if the medical treatment needed could harm a fertilized egg … and triggered government investigations into miscarriages,” according to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Voters in South Dakota blocked an extensive antiabortion measure that “backers had hoped to use as vehicle for challenging Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that recognized a woman’s right to make her own childbearing decisions,” according to the un3.html?scp=1&sq=reproductive%20right&st=cse ” target=”_blank”>New York Times.

And a proposition in California requiring teen girls to notify their parents before ending a pregnancy was once again defeated (for the third time in four years).

Among other audacious hopes affirmed Tuesday night, here is proof that our nation still prizes women’s health and reproductive independence. These decisions are particularly resplendent in light of stories like that of Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow, the 13-year-old girl who was stoned to death in Somalia a couple of weeks ago as punishment for being raped.

Obama now has a great opportunity to extend women’s sexual health and freedom across the globe. His transition team has indicated one of his first acts in office may be to overturn the Global Gag Rule. This law, which President Bush reinstated on his first day in office in 2001, blocks funding to any international aid agency that counsels women about the availability of abortion, even in nations where it is already legal.

The Global Gag Rule’s mandate of abstinence education at the expense of condom education has severely hampered family planning groups’ efforts to stop the spread of sexually transmitted disease and prevent unwanted pregnancies.

Susan F. Wood, cochairman of Obama’s advisory committee for women’s health, tells that Obama is committed to changing this policy, and quickly.

“We have been going in the wrong direction, and we need to turn it around and be promoting prevention and family-planning services and strengthening public health,” Wood says.

Agreed. Because public health is dependent on women’s health. No air quotes necessary.

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