U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, delivered this floor statement on women’s health before the U.S. Senate on the evening of May 14.
Over the past couple of months, we’ve seen state legislatures around the country taking drastic, unconstitutional steps to insert themselves into personal, private health-care decisions that should be between a woman and her doctor.
Ohio and Georgia have both passed laws that would eliminate a woman’s right to make her own health-care decisions.
And who made these laws? It’s always the same – it’s men who don’t even understand how women’s bodies, and preventive care like birth control, work.
We had one Ohio lawmaker – of course, it was a man – sponsoring a bill banning insurance companies from covering certain types of birth control – and then admitting he doesn’t even know how birth control works.
When asked about different kinds of medications, he actually said, “I don’t know because I’m not smart enough to know.”
Yet he thinks he’s smart enough to know better than millions of Ohio women how best to take care of their own bodies.
He was also making up medical procedures.
He actually wrote into a version of the Ohio bill an exception allowing insurance companies to cover a made-up medical procedure, where a doctor would re-implant an egg from an ectopic pregnancy.
This is a total fantasy. No such medical procedure exists.
And not only is it idiotic to suggest it does, it’s actively harmful to spread misinformation, and it’s insensitive to the women and families coping with the very real struggles involved in an ectopic pregnancy.
That inaccuracy in the law could create serious confusion about how and when doctors could treat women for ectopic pregnancies, and put women’s health at risk.
After he was asked over and over again what in the world he was talking about, he said, quote: “That’s clearly not my area of expertise.”
Yet, he thought it was a good idea to legislate on it, and insert himself into the medical decisions of millions of women in my state.
And unfortunately, this administration is only making things worse.
President Trump – and the men he’s put in charge – are encouraging these male lawmakers in states like Ohio and Georgia and Alabama. They are taking the country backward when it comes to women’s health.
Rather than making it easier for women to get care, they’re making it harder.
This administration put out a new rule two weeks ago that would allow health-care providers to refuse to provide needed care for a woman, if the treatment supposedly violated their personal beliefs.
In other words, if a woman had a miscarriage and came in needing emergency care, the doctor could refuse to treat her, simply based on his own personal biases.
How does that follow the physician mantra of “do no harm”?
And it’s not just medical professionals that could refuse care – it’s hospitals and insurance companies too.
I don’t know how anyone could suggest a for-profit insurance company has a conscience.
But under this rule, an insurance company can consider the coverage of some services – and we know these are always services related to women and LGBTQ Americans – against that corporation’s supposed “conscience.”
I wish that “conscience clause” would kick in when they’re raising premiums and denying people coverage for their medications.
One woman from Butler County wrote to me about this.
She said, “I would like to know why insurance companies are allowed to pick and choose the drugs they will and will not cover. Since when did they become doctors?”
And this is just the latest in a long line of rules that hurt women.
They’ve rolled back Title Ten protections, instituting a new gag rule that would ban many health clinics from talking about birth control and all family planning options with their patients – limiting their patients’ access to accurate medical information.
I get letters from women in Ohio who are scared about what all these changes mean.
One woman from Mahoning County wrote to me:
“I'm a 24 year old woman living with PCOS, a hormonal disorder. Complications of PCOS include Type 2 Diabetes, high risks of miscarriage and infertility, and even cancer.
“It's not curable, but can be treated with birth control.
“This domestic gag order will put millions of women at risk across the country.”
I hope my colleagues will think about those women.
And I hope my colleagues – especially my male colleagues – will spend a little more time trying to help women get the health care they need, instead of trying to meddle in decisions that should be between a woman and her doctor.