To many, Roe v. Wade represents the fundamental right of a woman to choose abortion. The 42 years since Roe, however, show how illusory that right is for some and the sharp contrast between the haves and the have-nots.
The 114th Congress, fresh off a series of promises to better the lives of all Americans, made its debut by readying votes on five bills to undermine women’s health. The new Republican majority’s actions come at a time of significant gains in health care for some, while others continue to experience sobering inequities. The Affordable Care Act has brought coverage to 10 million people, dropping uninsurance levels to near record lows in the past four decades. The 28 states expanding Medicaid have provided a lifeline to millions, offering them coverage they would otherwise never be able to afford.
As the insurer for millions of reproductive-aged women, Medicaid plays a key role in advancing low-income women’s health. Every person should be able to expect coverage of health care services that meet evidence-based standards of care. Medicaid does that by providing, among other services, coverage for birth control, well-women’s health visits, pregnancy care, prescription drugs and emergency care. Yet, there is one glaring omission from the services needed to meet the standard of care for women.