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Congress Must Stop ‘Politicizing Women’s Health,’ Address Zika Virus

The Hill: Congress’s late and weak response to Zika
Ellen Liu, director of women’s health at the Ms. Foundation for Women

“…After eight months and [several] failed attempts to pass President Obama’s emergency funding request to combat Zika, conservative lawmakers seem to have relented in the fight to ban funding to a Planned Parenthood affiliate in Puerto Rico, where Zika cases are highest. A continuing resolution finally passed by the House and Senate … includes $1.1 billion for Zika — far short of the president’s requested $1.9 billion. To understand Congress’s late and feeble response to Zika, you don’t need to be an expert on mosquito-borne viruses, infectious diseases, or vector control. All you need to be familiar with is our country’s longstanding fight to control women’s bodies. … [H]istory has shown time and again that when women’s health is involved, politicians would rather engage in an ideological battle than enable solutions. As we watch our country’s leaders confront the Zika epidemic, we must insist that our politicians stop politicizing women’s health and address Zika for the public health crisis that it is, not the latest opportunity to control women’s bodies” (10/7).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.