As Donna Shalala writes on the Huffington Post today: “health of our women should not be a partisan preference”, but as we all know the politics of women’s health continues to plague access to reproductive health services, equitable access to health services generally, and more broadly remind us that there is still a critical gap between males and females in regard to health in our country.
So why is it a partisan issue? Because women’s health is so frequently reduced to reproductive health (read: abortion) and because what is easier to ignore than HIV testing and contraceptives for the conservatives who believe that neither would be necessary if we abstained from those behaviors that require them.
But women’s health, as Shalala points out, is so much more than the health of ovaries and hormones. Cardiovascular health, BMI, and mental health are critical aspects of women’s health. Healthy hearts, healthy weight and healthy minds are non-partisan and should not be the exclusive domain of men. Equity matters and depoliticizing women’s health matters most of all.
Summer Johnson McGee, PhD