Protecting Reproductive Health
There are many factors involved when a woman decides to end a pregnancy, and over the past 14 years in political office, I have gained a deeper understanding of the complexities and emotions that accompany the difficult decisions that women and families make when confronted with these situations. I’ve heard firsthand from women of all ages, races, and socioeconomic backgrounds about the circumstances and hardships that accompany this personal choice, which we should not judge.
I have sat with women from Ohio and across the nation and heard them talk about their varying experiences: abusive relationships, financial hardship, health scares, rape, and incest. There are endless stories about women in troubling situations – the woman who became pregnant and has a violent spouse; the woman who lost her job and is unable to afford another child; or the underage girl who risks being thrown out of her house if she reveals her pregnancy. These are just a few of the many stories I have heard. Each of these women lived through difficult and personal situations with few options and no clear path to take. This is why there is no easy answer.
These women gave me a better understanding of how complex and difficult certain situations can become. And while there are people of good conscience on both sides of this argument, one thing has become abundantly clear to me: the heavy hand of government must not make this decision for women and families. Each and every American deserves the right to deal with these difficult situations in consultation with their families, close friends, or religious advisors. No federal or state law banning abortion can honestly and fairly take into account the various circumstances that make each decision unique.
Where government does have the ability to play a significant role is in giving women and families the tools they need to prevent unintended pregnancies by expanding education and access to contraception. We must get past the ignorance, fear, and – yes – discrimination against women that lead to restrictions on contraception and age-appropriate sex education.
During my time in Congress, I have authored and supported many proposals to help women prevent unplanned pregnancies, support prevention education, teach teens about values and healthy relationships and ensure access to contraception by increasing funding for family planning programs. I am also a cosponsor the Women’s Health Protection Act and Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH Woman) Act, which would help protect women in response to increasing attacks on access to reproductive health.