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Debbie Halvorson Headshot

50 Years Ago?

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The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held a hearing on the contraceptive coverage rule last week that caught everyone's attention. It wasn't the testimony of the witnesses that was newsworthy so much as the fact that it was an all-male panel discussing a women's health issue. I couldn't believe my eyes. How is it acceptable for women to not be at the table?

This is exactly why some Congresswomen rightfully walked out of the hearing in protest after their request to add a woman to the panel was denied by Chairman Issa (R-Calif.). I couldn't agree more with their actions. This type of treatment toward women's health is something you might have expected 50 years ago, but not today. Women have been making progress for equal pay in the workplace, more representation in government and more control over their own health for decades, but this reminds us that there is much work that needs to be done.

President Obama's ruling on contraceptives is the right approach not just for women, but for the country as a whole. Ensuring women have access to contraceptives is the responsible thing to do. The compromise made for religious organizations ensures women still have coverage but also ensures religious freedom -- something our country was founded on. The basic objective of ensuring women have more control of their own health is still being met.

Providing more preventative healthcare is exactly why I supported and voted in favor of the Affordable Care Act when I was in Congress. Under this law, women have many more preventive health care services such as mammograms, screenings for cervical cancer, and other services are already covered with no cost sharing for new health plans. With the addition of these new benefits, the Affordable Care Act is making significant strides in providing women affordable and accessible services that no one should go without -- especially because of income.

We can't go back to the days of half a century ago. This hearing was a stark reminder that the battle for women's rights is not over.