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"A Leap Into the Future" for Women

March 25, 2010

Despite the disappointing passage of an Executive Order maintaining the Hyde Amendment in health care reform yesterday, it is essential to underscore and celebrate the gains and protections women achieved in the legislation, including the legislative proposals of Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY). Her bill to create Women’s Health Offices and protect working mothers who are breastfeeding were both included in the reforms. Quoted in a press release on Tuesday, Representative Maloney said, "Women’s Health Offices are needed to ensure that women’s particular health needs are addressed in all Federal health initiatives...Recent initiatives like the establishment of the White House Council on Women and Girls show that we’re finally starting to get it – women have unique experiences, needs, and interests, and these need to be considered and addressed.” I heard that. Although Democrats have taken flak for appeasing when they should be fighting, and negotiating when they should be strong-arming, Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) made a rousing speech on the Senate floor Tuesday that seemed to channel the fury progressives felt nationwide as they watched politicians try to block reform that the country needs so desperately: "You heard the old saying, 'Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus?'" she began. "I think that [Republican] party is from Mars and we're from planet Earth. I think they've been out in our orbit. The planet Earth that I'm on tells me to pass health insurance." She went on to highlight the particularly maddening restrictions put on women's health for decades: "For too long, in too many ways, [insurance companies] treated simply being a woman as a preexisting condition...in eight states, domestic violence was viewed as a preexisting condition! You talk about abused? You were abused by your husband, then you were abused by your insurance company. Well we're not going to be battered any more." She called the reform "more than a beginning; this is a leap into the future." Watch Senator Mikulski's victory lap of a speech below. You might want to have tissues on hand.

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