Every day women come to our health centers across New York in need of affordable reproductive health care from someone they trust. Some have lost their jobs, and consequently, their health insurance. Some are young women ready for their first annual exam. Others worry about a sexually transmitted disease or HIV and know that we will make sure they get the care they need.
Quality reproductive health care is essential for the well-being of all of these women -- and for thousands more women, men and youth across the city. That's why we must elect a mayor who has a demonstrated commitment not only to reproductive health, but also to addressing the broader issues that enable women across this city to make decisions about their health and their families' futures.
Making sure women stay healthy requires more than legal access to birth control and abortion. The right to birth control, for example, isn't enough for the thousands of women across NYC who struggle to pay for it because of unaffordable housing, rising transportation costs and a still-unstable job market. Too many women can't afford the health care they need, a situation that leaves women of color and low-income women in particular at higher risk for a number of problems.
To truly address health disparities, our mayor will need to expand programs that help all women get the reproductive health care services they need, support economic equality and solutions that provide insurance coverage like the Affordable Care Act, ensure all NYC students have comprehensive sex education and much, much more.
That's why New Yorkers who care about women's health should vote for Bill de Blasio. De Blasio has been a steadfast champion for comprehensive sex education, access to reproductive health services and the rights and health of women across our city. De Blasio has also supported policies that make it easier for people to pay for health care. His opponent Joe Lhota, on the other hand, has supported delays of the Affordable Care Act.
De Blasio has described New York as a tale of two cities. That's all too true when it comes to health, including reproductive care.
We can no longer ignore the fact that the realities for women and girls living in some areas of the city are radically different than those living in others. Race, ethnicity, economic class and geography have sadly become risk factors for disease and death. In 2010, the infant mortality rate among black women was nearly triple the rate for white women, and was the highest in the Bronx. Maternal mortality rates are more than seven times greater for black women than for others. In 2011, black women and Latinas had the highest rates of new HIV diagnoses, making up more than 90 percent of new diagnoses among women. These disparities have turned our town into a Dickensian city, where too many are suffering.
And while teen pregnancy rates have fallen 30 percent in the last decade, the rates of unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections continue to be unacceptably high in our poorest communities. In some parts of the city, nearly 7 in 10 pregnancies are unintended. Ending that will take a mayor who's committed to educating our young people about birth control -- and then taking that next step of making certain that they can get it when they need it.
De Blasio, with his long history of standing with the women and families of our city, is this candidate.
We know de Blasio will help unite our city and address the health disparities that separate us today. We know that he will not be satisfied with simply preserving our gains in women's health but will build on them so New York can continue to serve as a beacon and leader in women's health.
We know Bill de Blasio is the right choice for women and for all New Yorkers.
-- Joan Malin is an officer of the Planned Parenthood of New York City Political Committee.
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