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Simple Bra, or Symbol of Women’s Health Issues?

Today here at Big Girls’ Bras, we’re going to take a short break from educating you about the best bras and swimsuits to raise awareness about an important issue. Women’s health issues have become a source of conflict on a national level, with individuals and groups lobbying against women’s health organizations and attempting to dictate what women can legally do, both from a funding perspective and a legislative perspective. A group in Ohio recently held a rally called “From Bras to Birth Control,” which featured booths on everything from breast exams to rape crisis intervention. No matter what side of the argument you’re on, it’s important to understand the conflict around women’s health issues.

What’s at Stake?
Around the country, women’s health organizations are under attack. Various groups have been working to cut funding to both state organizations and to groups like Planned Parenthood, which provide health services to hundreds of thousands of women annually. The argument is primarily spearheaded by pro-life organizations, and they claim that their target is to cut spending on any abortion-related services.

Unfortunately, these organizations offers a lot of other women’s health services to women who don’t have access through traditional health care. Women who can’t afford routine screening, like Pap smears and mammograms, can often access these services at reduced or subsidized rates through organizations like Planned Parenthood. These women would have no access to women’s health care if the Planned Parenthood budget was cut dramatically, or if Planned Parenthood was forced to close its doors.

Some legislators around the country are also attempting to introduce restrictions on family planning services. Effectively, this would limit access to or eliminate birth control options like the Pill. The argument is conservative and “family based” – but the proponents of bills like these don’t recognize that many women take birth control for other medical reasons. It can help to regulate the period, address hormonal imbalances and to combat serious health issues, like osteoporosis, endometriosis and ovarian cysts.

Basically, the heart of the issue is that more than 20 million women could lose access to important health services, such as mammograms, prenatal screenings, vaccines, cervical cancer screening and a host of preventative services. And this isn’t just for low-income women; some of the proposed legislation would let employers deny insurance coverage for contraception, and any service that they find “morally objectionable.” So even women with good jobs and good health insurance could find themselves in jeopardy of losing coverage for birth control, medical screening and a host of women’s health services.

The Bra as a Symbol for Women’s Health Issues
The group Ohio Lady Advocates hosted a rally at Youngstown State University to educate the women there about these issues, and urge them to seek legislative support. Women on this campus signed bras, and then sent them to legislators, telling them “we’ll support you if you support us, just like a bra.” The bra has become a symbol of women’s health issues through this rally and their attempts to raise awareness about these important issues.

No matter which side of the argument you’re on, it’s vitally important for women to be aware of what’s going on in legislation regarding women’s health. Find out what’s going on in your state, and make sure your legislators are fighting for you. If not, it may be your turn to send a powerful message.

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