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Ground Women’s Healthcare in Sound Health Policy, Not Ideology

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seiu-org-logoMy name is Kate Wendland Duncan. I’m a registered nurse on a general medical-surgical unit at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh.

Nurses treat the physical, psychological, social and spiritual aspects of health and disease, and that puts us in a unique position to understand how health policy affects citizens both individually and holistically. As a nurse, then, I know that the Affordable Care Act and its coverage of birth control is based in sound health policy. Which is why I was at the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. in March as the Hobby Lobby case was heard.


That case is about access to birth control: whether corporations can exclude contraceptive coverage from the health insurance coverage they provide their employees on the basis of their religious or other objections of a personal nature.

#HobbyLobby: What’s it all about?

As a nurse, my role is to be an advocate for my patients and as the court is considering its ruling on Hobby Lobby, I wanted to share my thoughts on the issue. It makes sense for the nation’s physical, social, and economic health for women and families to decide for themselves when and whether they’re ready to nurture and support children. If we start dismantling and cherry-picking the law to allow employers, rather than the health goals of the nation, to determine what is covered by health insurance, then won’t we end up right back where we started?

Hobby Lobby is a large corporation with 28,000 employees. Corporate CEOs, know a lot about business, but they usually don’t have a medical background, nor do they know the health concerns and needs of all of their employees. The healthcare providers who treat individual patients, however, do know their life circumstances and health concerns, and can make informed recommendations on their healthcare options.

If birth control isn’t covered by insurance, it is a significant expense and one that most hourly-wage workers cannot afford. It will force many people to choose between paying out-of-pocket for birth control and the critical needs of their families, like keeping the lights on and putting food on the table.

I urge the court to rule in favor of empowering citizens to make their own informed healthcare decisions, instead of allowing the personal beliefs of a small group of multimillion dollar business owners to dictate health policy.

This article was originally printed on SEIU on April 25, 2014.  Reprinted with permission.

Author: Kate Wendland Duncan, RN Pittsburgh, PA, SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania

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