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Aspen Times - Take Politics Out Of Women's Health Care

Op-Ed

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By Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet

As fathers, husbands and sons, we are both blessed to have been surrounded by strong women throughout our lives. We know that women's health care is a very personal and serious matter -- a life-and-death matter.

None of the adult women in our lives needs to be told how best to follow her religious beliefs, nor should she be constrained by government in making her own health care decisions. And those are just two reasons we've been disturbed by the intensifying attacks on access to women's health care over the past couple of weeks -- and why we write today in support of protecting women's rights to make decisions regarding personal, private medical decisions.

The recent fight over women's health care began when one of the most respected women's health advocates, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, bowed to political pressure and announced plans to cut off funding for breast cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood clinics across the country. We joined many Coloradans in cheering our own Denver and Aspen Komen affiliates, which objected to cutting off funds for life-saving medical screenings at health centers in Colorado. And we cheered louder when the national organization reversed course and restored their funding.

At the same time, following the recommendations of a nonpartisan, independent group of doctors and other medical experts, President Obama announced plans to put birth control and other contraceptives on the list of preventive health services that will be available for free to all Americans, which was made possible through health care reform. This new benefit also protects large religious institutions, such as religiously affiliated hospital systems and universities, by directing their health-insurance providers to work directly with employees to ensure access to contraceptives rather than requiring these employers to make such benefits available out of their own pockets. And it should be noted that this rule is consistent with Colorado law, which already requires contraception coverage in health-insurance plans.

We believe this rule strikes the right balance between ensuring the religious freedom of employers and guaranteeing that thousands of Colorado women will have the right to make their own decision as to whether contraceptive care is right for them. But we also think Coloradans of all political affiliations can agree that Washington politicians should never come between a woman and her doctor.

We all go to the doctor expecting that our physical exams, the advice we receive from our physician and the treatments we are prescribed will remain between ourselves and the medical professionals we entrust with our care. Politics has no place in these deliberations, and it should not impact the quality or range of care provided to anyone.

Every day we hear from Colorado women asking us to keep politics out of their health care. Let's put their personal medical choices back where they belong -- in their own capable hands.


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