Welcome to Washington, Rep.-elect Tammy Duckworth! As a nonprofit, grass-roots organization with members in Illinois and an office in Washington, D.C., we'd have some friendly advice: Don't forget the women. Women made up 53 percent of the national electorate. That's enough to make the difference in a slew of races -- including yours.
What do women want? The ability to determine our own futures. And nothing is as important to that goal as is affordable, effective contraception. Birth control seems to have become controversial all of a sudden -- even though our national family planning program, Title X, was started by Richard Nixon. Well, Nixon might be a great role model for you (on family planning, that is. Here's why:
• It's good for health when women can plan and space pregnancies. They and their babies are healthier.
• It's a financial no-brainer. Every dollar the government spends on family planning saves almost $4 in Medicaid costs the next year. Illinois's publicly funded family planning clinics saved taxpayers nearly $97 million in 2008, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
• It helps women succeed: When women get pregnant at the wrong time, their educations, careers and futures often suffer. Almost half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned.
Access to birth control is as important to improving lives overseas as it is here. It's estimated that 222 million women in developing countries don't have access to contraception. America has long been a leader on international family planning, but it's come under increasing attack.
You can expect to hear more from us about that, Rep. Duckworth, and we don't think the women voting in your district will take "no" for an answer. Congrats on the new job!
Amy Phillips Bursch
Media Relations Manager