I was ecstatic to learn that through the Duke Women's Center I would have the opportunity to be the student representative at a private event with Cecile Richards, the President of Planned Parenthood.
The focus of the discussion was women's healthcare access and affordability under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Richards emphasized that with this legislation, insurance companies can no longer charge women higher premiums and can no longer discriminate against potential insurees with preexisting conditions. Finally, preventive services like mammograms, pap smears and contraception can no longer come with a co-pay.
It was so incredibly inspiring to see a role model like Richards speak in person. I had seen her chat and laugh with Jon Stewart on the Daily Show and read articles about her headlining rallies for women's health, but she was even more vivacious, frank and energetic than I could have imagined. Indeed, she needs this energy to lead an organization that in many communities funds the only clinics that will take on Medicaid patients and only ones that will provide the comprehensive "Well Woman" programs for women in need of affordable health care. As Planned Parenthood comes under assault in states like North Carolina, it was encouraging to hear that Richards plans to keep defending and expanding healthcare for women and families regardless of the outcome on of the election November 6th.