According to a study released this week by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), the status of women’s health within the US is in an overall state of decline. In Making the Grade for Women’s Health: A National and State-by-State Report Card, each state was graded and ranked on 27 health benchmarks, and no state received a satisfactory mark. Three received the next best, a “satisfactory minus,” with Vermont ranking highest.
“By and large, states are failing to meet minimum standards when it comes to women’s health,” says Judy Waxman, the vice president for health and reproductive rights at NWLC, which cosponsored the report along with the Oregon Health and Science University. The US as a whole received a grade of “unsatisfactory,” meeting only three of the 27 benchmarks: annual dentist visits, regular mammograms and screenings for colorectal cancer. The benchmarks not met pertain to such issues as health insurance, infant mortality, poverty, obesity and high blood pressure. The study noted an overall decline in the area of reproductive health, attributing it to factors such as insufficient access to health clinics and emergency contraceptives.
Eleven states and the District of Columbia received failing grades in the study, with Mississippi placing last. The remaining 35 states were deemed “unsatisfactory.” The report further noted disparities in health quality related to race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and disability, suggesting that “the problems faced by many women are even greater than these overall numbers suggest.”