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President Obama Touts Benefits of Health Reform Law for Women, Defends Planned Parenthood During Forum

President Obama Touts Benefits of Health Reform Law for Women, Defends Planned Parenthood During Forum

April 9, 2012 — President Obama emphasized his administration's record on providing women with greater access to health care services during a White House Forum on Women and the Economy on Friday, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports. "Because of the health reform law we passed, women finally have more power to make their choices about their healthcare," Obama said at the forum.

Coinciding with Obama's speech, the White House Council on Women and Girls on Friday released a report highlighting how women have benefitted under the health reform law (PL-111-148). According to the report, 1.1 million women between ages 19 and 25 gained insurance under the law; 24.7 million women enrolled in Medicare, plus an additional 20.4 million women, received preventive services such as mammograms, breast and cervical cancer screenings at no additional cost; and more than two million women in Medicare saved money on prescription drugs (Pecquet, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 4/6).

Obama also addressed the recent political debate on women's issues, saying it has been "oversimplified" (Nakamura, Washington Post, 4/6). He said that women "are not an interest group" and "shouldn't be treated that way," adding, "Women are over half this country and its workforce." While the president seemed to try to distance himself from stronger rhetoric by other Democrats, he did accuse Republicans of trying to limit women's health care access by targeting Planned Parenthood and trying to repeal the federal health reform law, the Los Angeles Times reports.

"When people talk about repealing healthcare reform, they're not just saying we should stop protecting women with preexisting conditions," he said (Hennessey, Los Angeles Times, 4/6). He added, "When people say we should get rid of Planned Parenthood, they're not just talking about restricting a woman's ability to make her own health decision; they're talking about denying, as a practical matter, the preventive care, like mammograms, that millions of women rely on" (Epstein, Politico, 4/6).

Democratic Lawmakers Comment on 'War on Women' During Sunday Talk Shows

In related news, Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.) on Sunday told CNN's Candy Crowley on "State of the Union" that the Republican party is focused on "turning back the clock for women," Politico reports. She said that "really is something that's unacceptable and shows how [callous] and insensitive they are towards women's priorities. ... Because the policies that have come out of the Republican Party saying we should have to have a debate again over contraception and whether we should have access to it and it should be affordable. ... You have Republicans that have engaged themselves for the entire Congress on trying to redefine rape as only being forceful rape, defunding Planned Parenthood and family planning programs" (Weinger, Politico, 4/8). Wasserman Schultz also defended Democrats use of the phrase "war on women" (Little, "Politics Now," Los Angeles Times, 4/8).

Meanwhile, Congressional Black Caucus Chair Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) in a separate interview on CNN's "State of the Union" stated that use of the phrase is an exaggeration similar to how Republicans have characterized Obama as waging a war on religion. He called for condemning such rhetoric, saying, "It is damaging the body politic and it's further separating people in this country" (Jaffe, National Journal, 4/8).