As a Maine resident and a young woman, I respectfully ask that the governor sign L.D. 1247, “An Act to Expand Coverage of Family Planning Services.” Last week, the bill won the support in both the House and the Senate. It is expected to pass favorably once more through both houses before it lands on Gov. Paul LePage’s desk.
The state already funds pregnancies for low-income women, but it would make better economic sense to fund preventative services, such as birth control, as well. This would help the state save money.
More importantly, this bill would give low-income women access to health care, which, in turn, would give them control over their own economic future. Access to health care, especially better, more effective birth control, is a huge factor in empowering women to manage their reproductive choices. By having access to effective, safer birth control, women can enter or remain in the workforce longer than if they were limited by unplanned pregnancies.
Access to other preventative services such as Pap smears, screenings for breast cancer and cervical cancer, tests and treatment for sexually transmitted infections and wellness exams help low-income women remain healthy and become tax-paying citizens.
I think of this bill as giving women choices about their health and their future. Choices are good. Women comprise nearly half of the workforce, still face a wage gap with men, and many are single parents. It makes good economic sense to encourage them to have a career and become tax-paying citizens. When women have better reproductive choices, they can plan for their future and improve their economic standing.
Dara McIntireUniversity of Maine, Orono