Tonight, ranking member of the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) will address attendees at the fourth and final night of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Penn. Senator Murray, a committed long-time champion for all things women’s health, will be sharing with attendees and at-home viewers alike why she knows that her friend and former colleague, Democratic presidential nominee and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, is the best possible ally women could have in the White House.
And Murray is just basing this argument on gut instinct — she knows about Clinton’s unwavering commitment to women’s health, as seen by the work the two did as Senate colleagues to fight the political pressure being put on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by the Bush administration to not approve Plan B for over-the-counter use.
“Hillary was with me on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee when the FDA was considering whether to approve Plan B,” Senator Murray tells Yahoo Style. “The FDA — we count on them do make decisions backed by science, not politics. But the Bush administration had extreme conservatives trying to influence the FDA to not make a scientific decisions — and that was so wrong to us. The FDA is the gold standard. They should be approving things based on science always. And we didn’t want them folding based on conservatives yelling at them and playing politics.”
So Murray and Clinton worked side-by-side for years to help keep the FDA’s eye on the prize — and do the right thing by science and for women. And unsurprisingly, given both Murray and Clinton’s track record, they ultimately triumphed.
“This is something we worked on long and hard together,” Murray says. “Hillary did not give up. This is something she felt very strongly about. And the FDA at the end of the day made their decision based on science — and today, Plan B is available over the counter. This was real progress for women and women’s choice.”
Murray says that the importance of access to emergency contraception for women cannot be overstated — likewise, nor can Clinton’s commitment to women’s healthcare.
“Access to emergency contraception means a woman can make choices for herself and her health. And this is an economic issue for women, and they should be able to make their own choice about their own future and their family’s future. [Emergency contraception] needs to be accessible — you shouldn’t have to wade through bureaucracy to get it. You shouldn’t have to get a doctor’s approval , which is sometime a time and financial challenge. There is a real economic barrier for women if they don’t have access to emergency contraception, and a real privacy issue.”
This is why, Murray says, it’s so essential that Clinton becomes our next president.
“I very much want Secretary Clinton to become president because then we won’t have to be on the defensive all the time, we will have a champion in the White House to make sure women’s health is protected. I have seen those on the other side try to use women’s access to healthcare to force a government shutdown — and [Republican vice presidential nominee, Indian Governor Mike] Pence was the leader of that in 2010. And I will not forget.”
Clinton, in contrast, “will be with us side by side to make sure we don’t have to face those kinds of consequences. I am pretty confident Trump would not care. To have a champion in the White House who understands that women’s health and reproductive rights are not only privacy issues that should only be decided by a woman between her partner, her doctor, herself and her own religion and understands that this is an economic issue for women with women in the workforce today more than ever who need access to affordable, quality, reproductive health choices — it’s imperative she’s there.”
And when I asked Murray about what lessons she and indeed her former colleague Hillary have learned about the double-standard faced by women in politics, the Senator at first could only offer an unbridled laugh in reply.
“A woman has to walk into a room knowing the issues inside and out. They have to confidently accept that when they walk in a room and speak to an audience and are negotiating, they won’t be given even first blush. They’ll be asked, ‘Do you really know this issue?’ And then they’ll have to prove it,” Murray explains.
Which is another reason why a future President Clinton is so essential.
Murray notes, “With a woman president in the White House, my granddaughters won’t have to face the question from their colleagues one day if they know what they’re talking about when they walk into the room.”