A Vital Service: Bringing Black Women's Perspective to the Women's Health Debate
The recent debate over women’s health is pretty astounding, especially when you consider it is about providing basic preventive health care services, like cancer screenings and birth control. What is even more puzzling is who is front and center driving the discussion: the Catholic bishops, the GOP presidential candidates, and the members of Congress sponsoring bills that limit access to care. ALL MEN! Just last week the U.S. House Oversight Committee held a hearing on a new birth control coverage requirement—and not a single woman in support of birth control was invited to testify! “Where are the women?” Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) demanded to know. Her response has reverberated throughout the Twitter-verse and in the country’s collective consciousness:
I would add to that “Where are the black women?”
Our perspective as black women in this debate is critical. I’ll go so far as to say that it is a matter of life and death. Black women with cervical cancer are twice as likely to lose their lives to this disease as are white women. TWICE! And black men and women, who make up 14 percent of the U.S. population, account for 69 percent of gonorrhea cases and about half of all cases of chlamydia, HIV/AIDS, and syphilis. The way I see it, reproductive health care is serious business for black folks, and we need to make sure our stories are at the forefront of the debate around access to care.
That is why I am proud to be producer of A Vital Service: African-American Stories of Reproductive Health Care, a film that showcases the women and families who have benefitted from having access to the critical health services offered at Planned Parenthood health centers. Watch the film below or check it out at www.AVitalService.org. Hear from the women and men who are impacted by decisions made in Washington, D.C., and those who are pushing to increase access to care and to better our community. You can also share your own personal story on the site. If you have ever had trouble accessing affordable birth control, if you had a Pap test that revealed cervical cancer, or if your breast cancer diagnosis was aided by a clinical breast exam at a Planned Parenthood health center, we want to hear from you! It is only through sharing our stories that we will raise awareness and help educate people about the critical health issues in our community.