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Girls & Women

Reese Witherspoon Just Addressed Women’s Fight For Fundamental Health Care in the Most Perfect Way

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Since her early days of playing Elle Woods, a perky and seriously under-estimated Harvard law student in “Legally Blonde”, actress Reese Witherspoon has always pushed for narratives that place women’s rights first.

In 2015, she stood on stage at Glamour’s Women of the Year gala at Carnegie Hall to deliver a speech on the power of female ambition. Two years later, she launched Hello Sunshine, a multimedia content company that creates opportunities for women looking to tell female-driven stories.

This week, in a heartfelt pep talk published in Glamour Magazine, Witherspoon addressed women’s access to healthcare.

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“It definitely feels backward for women to be fighting for fundamental health care,” Witherspoon wrote in her essay. “I mean...really?”

That fight she’s referring to is the same one that thousands of women marched for at the 2017 Women’s March in Washington, D.C. It’s the same fight that women face after President Trump’s announcement in early January that he would seek to repeal and replace the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Before the ACA was passed, one-third of American women between the ages of 25 to 40 were charged 30% more for the same medical coverage as their male counterparts.

Some insurance companies even denied women coverage for their hospital deliveries on the premise that pregnancy was considered a “pre-existing condition.”

Like so many others before her, Witherspoon is raising her voice so that discriminatory practices will go back to where they belong: the past.

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“If our representatives value women’s health in this country as much as they claim they do,” she wrote, “how can they even contemplate denying women access to cervical or breast cancer screenings?”

Back in April, President Trump signed legislation aimed at cutting off federal funding to Planned Parenthood, a nonprofit women’s health care organization that offers more than just abortion services — including cancer screenings and prevention.

As a matter of fact, no federal funds go toward abortions at any of Planned Parenthood’s 650 health centers, which serve some 2.5 million women each year.

Women both in the US and abroad will face serious implications if the administration follows through with its promises.

The White House’s decision in early February to defund US aid to foreign health programs under the “global gag rule” could also put millions of more women at risk.

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The rule will cut about $9 billion in funding from organizations around the world that provide basic services like routine medical exams, maternal and child health care, and pregnancy and delivery services, according to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

By limiting access to family planning services, the Kaiser Family Foundation predicts the cuts will cause 2,800 deaths per year.

“You can’t help our kids, our country, or our future if you don’t take care of women,” Witherspoon wrote. “That feels pretty simple to me.”

The views expressed in this piece do not reflect the views of Global Citizen's partners.