It’s been 40 years since the Roe v. Wade decision gave women the legal right — for the first time, ever, in the U.S. — to make decisions about their own bodies. It’s been 40 years since women’s healthcare has been a key part of legal and political debates, in which the majority of participants are adult males who (not surprisingly) have very fragile notions of what women’s healthcare actually entails.
One would think that four decades is enough time for right-leaning conservative Americans to realize that women’s healthcare is less of a political issue, and more of a healthcare issue. But time and time again, legislature that would seek to make women’s healthcare options more affordable and accessible is struck down by politicians on all sides.
It came as no surprise to many women that this past year the Senate struck down the Women’s Equality Act, which would provide women with legal protection regarding their healthcare decisions. But many women’s health advocates in NY have begun noting that federal protection seems quite far away, considering that their own state legislature has been unwilling to change the 1970 legislation which limits reproductive healthcare options for women, and which is in direct conflict with the federal Roe v. Wade decision.
Even though NYS has been following the Roe v. Wade decision, the state still hasn’t officially changed its legal position on women’s health. Supporters of reproductive health rights have been swarming the state’s capital city of Albany recently, pressuring politicians to firmly change state legislature; for some reason, many NYS politicians still seem hesitant to make these changes.
More than anything else, women are angry that these debates and discussions over reproductive healthcare are nearly identical to the debates and discussions that politicians were having 40 years ago. Healthcare experts have conducted an amalgam of scientific research, much of which didn’t exist 40 years ago, and which — one would expect — would influence healthcare legislation.
Birth control pills, for example, have been found to ameliorate a variety of female-only conditions, such as PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder), and the physical effects of menopause, such as hot flashes, which and which effect the majority of aging women.
Even conservative healthcare advocates have begun addressing their own colleagues, begging them to admit that greater access to birth control will cause the number of abortions to drop significantly.
Many women find it encouraging that more male politicians, like NYS Gov. Andrew Cuomo, have been advocating for women’s rights during this year’s political campaign season. But until politicians actually manage to put their ideas into practice, we should expect to see more crowds of women’s rights advocates demanding equality.