[Congressional Record Volume 158, Number 37 (Wednesday, March 7, 2012)]
[Page H1218]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                     WOMEN'S ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from 
Texas (Ms. Jackson Lee) for 5 minutes.
  Ms. JACKSON LEE of Texas. This is a month that we note as celebrating 
women and women's history as a major component of the wonderful history 
of the greatest Nation in the world. How proud we are of a Nation that 
supports people's rights no matter your walk of life or religious 
background or ethnic background; and how proud we are now in 2012 to 
note that there are men and women on the front lines, on the 
battlefields defending America's freedom.
  So I rise today to continue my advocacy for women's rights. I note 
that I have been a proponent of women's rights from the earliest part 
of my career as a lawyer, as a civic participant, as a civilian in my 
hometown of Houston, as a mother, certainly as a wife, and as a public 
servant now as a Member of the United States Congress.
  I am delighted to acknowledge the Congressional Women's Caucus and to 
note that the mission of the Women's Caucus is to improve the lives of 
women and their families. Since 1977, the caucus has focused on issues 
that are pertinent to women--from fair credit to child support, 
equitable pay, retirement income, preventing domestic violence at home 
and internationally, and of course preventing sexual assault.
  So I rise today with a degree of consternation and a resounding stand 
against the siege and onslaught of women's access to health care. Let 
me be very clear: women's access to health care is not a battle about a 
woman's choice or the utilization of contraceptives or family planning. 
It is, simply, women's access to health care. The issue of birth 
control is an issue of women's health care. Let me give you a recent 
study's commentary by the National Women's Law Center:
  It found that 25-year-old women have been charged up to 84 percent 
more than their male contemporaries for individual health plans that 
specifically exclude maternity coverage. Let me be very clear: 84 
percent higher than a male's plan to allow a woman to have access to 
health care. Therein lies the purpose of the Affordable Care Act--not 
individual mandates but to be able to even the playing field for 
women's health care. Therefore, let me indicate that using or not using 
birth control or family planning is an individual matter, but you 
cannot obtain those without a prescription. It should be a decision 
between a woman, her conscience, her doctor, and certainly her faith. 
So I wish to address the recent tenor of the debate on birth control.
  A young law student, Sandra Fluke, came before this body, before the 
Members of Congress, and testified regarding coverage for family 
planning and contraceptives. She was then publicly derailed as being a 
slut and a prostitute. I would hope the days of derogatory terms to 
silence women's opinions are over forever, particularly when they speak 
about truth. She recounted the story of a young friend who lost an 
  Let me repeat: she, Ms. Fluke, recounted a story of a young friend 
who lost an ovary due to polycystic ovarian fibroids, which can be 
managed by contraceptives through prescription. Unfortunately, that 
young woman could not afford contraceptives and had to endure terrible 
pain. As a result of asking for help to address female law students' 
health concerns, Ms. Fluke, in coming to this body as an American 
citizen, as is her right to petition and speak to the Members of 
Congress, was called a slut and a prostitute by an entertainment talk-
show host.
  Calling women these sorts of names is no more than vile, underhanded 
and a way of defeating one's right to speak. I don't deny the right of 
entertainers and talk-show entertainers and flamboyant 
conversationalists to speak all day, but there has to be a defining 
moment of dignity and respect to anyone's disagreement. So I hope more 
and more advertisers will recognize that a woman's power is greater 
than the individual entertainer's power. Drop off of that show. Drop 
off one by one, day by day. Leave them to the old-fashioned medicine of 
the 1800s--the pills that will cure all. Let the old doc medicine be 
their advertisers. That's about the level that they should be at.
  Women's health is so very important; and at some point, reproductive 
health is very much a part of it. Polycystic ovarian syndrome is helped 
by contraceptives. Mr. Speaker, all of these--endometriosis, the lack 
of menstrual periods, menstrual cramps, premenstrual syndrome--are 
helped by treatment and access to women's health.
  Let me finally say in conclusion that when you cut Medicaid, you cut 
poor women's access to health care. I will stand and fight for women's 
access to health care and their own decisions because it is part of the 
American way. So let us stand together, united as a Nation, being fair 
and open to all opinions, but never denying a woman, along with every 
other American, access to health care.