Sens. Warren and Romney Unite on Women’s Health Advocacy
WASHINGTON — “It is strange … to see Elizabeth Warren and Mitt Romney promoting the same thing,” Sen. Romney, R-Utah, quipped at an advocacy event Wednesday night in the Senate Hart building. His pledge to the late Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, to take up the cause of women’s health rights — and ostensibly his belief in the project — had Romney and Sen. Warren, D-Mass., hosting the release of “Below the Belt,” a new endometriosis documentary produced by Hillary Clinton.
“I am delighted to be in a room full of people who care about women’s health issues, including being able to say words like endometriosis,” Warren said.
Endometriosis is an often painful disorder in which tissue that normally lines the inside of a woman’s uterus also grows outside of it. Commonly linked with infertility and other quality-of-life challenges, it has been estimated that one in 10 women of reproductive age suffers from this disease globally.
Despite this, endometriosis is often misdiagnosed, treatment is delayed, there is a lack of awareness in the medical community on available treatments, and a “care gap” exists for insurance claims.
First approached by Hatch five years earlier to champion endometriosis education, research funding and insurance support, Warren said the effort was “important to him because of Emily, his granddaughter,” one of four women who share their very personal endometriosis stories in the documentary film.
“Most of all it was about watching one man stand up and say, ‘This isn’t right,’ and [Hatch] invited other people to come along,” she said. “He invited Hilary Clinton to come along. He invited me to come along. He invited others.”
And while Hatch didn’t live to see the documentary finished, the screening advocacy event was evidence that others took up the mantle of the campaign.
“This is a film that gets people emotionally to recognize that this needs to be a priority,” film producer and advocate Rosario Dawson said.
“I stand here on behalf of 50% of women who face infertility due to endometriosis,” she added. “‘Below the Belt’ aims to revolutionize the status quo so that people with endometriosis get what we deserve, the right to live healthy, informed, fulfilling lives.”
Three of the four women who Warren and Romney applauded for allowing “their personal lives and health struggles [to be] part of the film,” along with Dr. Iris Kerin Orbuch, who performs intricate excision surgeries to remove endometriosis, were on hand to recommend specific action to policymakers and their staff attending the Hill screening.
“We need funding. We need money. That’s what we need to create endometriosis research,” Orbuch said. “Then we need care. We can’t just look at the pelvis. We need to understand the disease. … We need to fight it from the ground up, and that’s the only way to beat it.”
In addition to research funding, event organizers, including Warren and Romney, pushed for better endometriosis education, enhanced training for health professionals and efforts for earlier diagnosis.
“Below the Belt” premiers for public audiences on PBS in June.
Kate can be reached at [email protected]