Jenny O’Connell can strike a pose, a scene, or chords as a multi-talented artist living in New York City. But there is another role she is always ready to dive into: advocate for ALL women receiving the healthcare they deserve.

“Cervical cancer won’t go away if we pretend it doesn’t exist. Diseases don’t have a political agenda and frankly don’t care about your race, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, or how many people you’ve had sex with.

I am lucky to currently have a primary care doctor who treats me with respect and empathy, never deriding me for who I have sex with or my orientation. Instead of shaming people and sentencing them to death via cervical cancer, we should be making access to Pap tests accessible and affordable for all women.

Healthcare is a human right and human life is worthy of protection.”

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All women are women; however, there are issues specifically related to a person's sex determined at birth.  AFAB, assigned female at birth, people are at risk for cervical cancer. The COVID-19 Pandemic has reminded us that medical workers are heroes, accurate scientific information is essential, medical resources are not boundless and need funding, and that compassion for people is essential to our survival. When detected early, cervical cancer is highly treatable; we cannot treat and prevent cervical cancer without access to Pap and HPV tests. According to the CDC, cervical cancer used to be the leading cause of cancer death for AFAB people in the United States. However, the number of cases of cervical cancer and the number of deaths from cervical cancer have decreased significantly due to many people getting regular Pap tests.  Watching the pandemic unfold in real time from my apartment is terrifying, and to be completely honest: I don't know how to explain why people should care about other people. I don't know why the concept of empathizing with people who have experiences that differentiate from your own is so hard for some people to grasp. Social distancing, like Pap tests, is not fun and does not rank high on the list of things that I would like to do. However, both social distancing and Pap tests are privileges that I'm very lucky to have access to. Not everyone has the privilege of staying home, and there are people who have difficulty obtaining and affording Pap and HPV tests. The proposed rule changes would diminish access to Pap testing, making it so much harder to get one. We need to take care of each other, especially during difficult times: support accessible health care, including Pap and HPV tests for all women.  Check out @protectthePap and to learn more! Paid for by Protect the Pap 📷 by @laubenheimer_portraits

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