As the battle continues on President Obama’s economic stimulus package, the Senate is expected to start debates over the proposed $400 million intended for use on STD prevention. Sen. Tom Harkin, Iowa Democrat and chairman of the Senate Appropriation health subcommittee, stated:
The initiative includes grants to communities for health promotion, immunization programs, health screenings and counseling, smoking-cessation programs, scholarships and loan repayment for health professionals, research, and evidence-based disease-prevention strategies.
By passing this bill, we can hope to see improvements in the education, prevention, screening and diagnosis of sexually transmitted diseases in the United States. However, while the bill is contributing to supporting women’s rights, not all the initial steps are being taken. A separate portion of the economic stimulus package which would have allocated $200 million for providing contraceptive coverage under Medicaid was removed.
For Republicans and Democrats that don’t support the stimulus package, their argument is that portions such as STD prevention and providing contraceptives will provide little short-term help in boosting the economy. But what they fail to see is how economics plays a role on one’s health, and health plays a role in economics? Dismissing the need for resources and education that can improve women’s health is a failure not only to women, but to children and men, all of whom may be affected by STDs or unintended pregnancy.
Contributed by Angela Donadic, Policy and Advocacy Fellow