Story No. 294: Dr. Kanani from New York

I take care of young women and girls—8th and 9th graders—in the Bronx. They are white, black, Latina, Asian. They come from single parent homes and two-parent homes. They are Christian, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, and agnostic. Their parents are nurses, police officers, teachers, cab drivers, business owners.

15% of our adolescent girls come to us with histories of sexual abuse. Many have been raped, often by a family member. Some have been pregnant. Some have autoimmune disease or other complex medical illnesses, and pregnancy complicates their health and puts their own lives at risk.

If the Department of Health and Human Services wants to serve and protect Americans “at every stage of life,” let it start by (1) supporting continued CHIP coverage for these children, (2) protecting our girls’ rights to protect themselves from pregnancy (contraceptive coverage), and (3) providing coverage for mental health and options counseling, especially (but not only) for those who are victims of rape, incest, reproductive coercion, and sex trafficking.