Rep. Gomez and Senator Murray Introduce the Jeanette Acosta Invest in Women’s Health Act of 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jimmy Gomez (CA-34) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced the Jeanette Acosta Invest in Women’s Health Act of 2021, legislation that would increase availability of preventive, life-saving cancer screenings at safety net and reproductive health care providers like Planned Parenthood. Additionally, the bill would create new grant and pilot programs to expand access to preventive services and help train health practitioners, especially in treating low-income women and women of color. 
Jeanette Acosta – a native of California’s 34th Congressional District – was a fierce women’s health advocate, a former congressional staffer, and a White House intern in the Obama administration. In 2017, she lost her battle with cervical cancer at the age of 32.  

“Jeanette Acosta’s resilience and determination to overcome her illness could only be matched by her compassion and grace in her efforts to secure healthy outcomes for all women,” said Congressman Gomez. “Even in the midst of her own courageous battle against cancer, Jeanette selflessly devoted the rest of her life to advocating for critical preventative cancer screenings for low-income women and women of color. She represented the best of us, and the reintroduction of the Jeanette Acosta Invest in Women’s Health Act honors her legacy by building upon her work in tearing down the systemic barriers that have denied essential health care services to women in need.” 

“It is unacceptable that patients across the country are dying from breast and gynecologic cancers because they don’t have access to life-saving early detection screenings and early interventions—and it’s women of color who are experiencing the highest rates of illness and death,” said Senator Murray. “This bill addresses these troubling disparities by making it easier for patients with low-incomes, patients of color, and others to get these critical services—including by supporting access to trusted, local providers like Planned Parenthood health clinics. I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this effort—because I can think of no better way of honoring Jeanette Acosta’s memory as a champion for women’s health than by passing this important bill, expanding access to preventive health care, and ultimately saving lives.”

“The bill in our daughter’s name, the Jeanette Acosta Invest in Women’s Health Act of 2021, means a great deal to me and to my family,” said Frank X. Acosta, Ph.D, Jeanette Acosta’s father. “Jeanette suffered an unbelievable amount of pain to a cervical cancer that took her life a little over three years ago. This bill would be a powerful extension of her efforts and wish for women to be spared the agony of cervical cancer. I know that Jeanette wanted to shine a light on the disparities to cancer health services and prevention for low-income, Latina, and Black women. This bill is important to us because it will shine the light brightly and help to close the gap between cancer prevention services and the many women who have not been able to access these services.”  

“It is deeply moving to watch Sen. Murray and Rep. Gomez introduce this critical legislation, which honors the spirit and memory of a fierce health care advocate, Jeanette Acosta,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, President & CEO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “We know education, preventive screening, and early detection increase the chance of surviving cervical and breast cancer. And we know that, because of centuries of systemic racism, Black women, Indigenous women, and Latinas die far too often from these horrific diseases, in large part because of barriers to preventive health care. Planned Parenthood Federation of America is proud to support this bill and to offer these critical health services to our patients. Congress must pass this legislation as quickly as possible — lives are at stake.” 

“Although cervical cancer is a largely preventable and treatable disease, Black women in the United States are dying from cervical cancer at more than two times the rate of white women," said Linda Goler Blount, President and Ceo Black Women’s Health Imperative. "It is critical that we understand the barriers that women of color face to access reproductive health care services and information, including cervical cancer preventive and diagnostic services.  That is why the Black Women’s Health Imperative (BWHI) supports the Jeanette Acosta Invest in Women’s Health Act of 2021 introduced by Congressman Jimmy Gomez and U.S. Senator Patty Murray. This legislation will increase access to co-testing for HPV and cervical cancer among patients with a higher risk of cervical cancer, including Black, Hispanic and Latina women."

“Cervical cancer deaths are highly preventable and treatable and no one should die from the disease—the US government can take concrete steps to reduce preventable deaths and eliminate glaring racial disparities in cervical cancer incidence and mortality rates,” said Annerieke Daniel, Women’s Rights Researcher, Human Rights Watch. “Congress should expand access to life-saving screenings for those disproportionately impacted, in particular women of color and those living in rural and neglected communities.”

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