For Elizabeth Warren, Valentine’s Day has a particularly personal connection — with larger policy implications.
In a blog post on her campaign website Tuesday, the Massachusetts senator wrote that her mother, Pauline Herring, was born on the holiday.
“When I was a little girl, I bought some heart-shaped pans at the dime store,” Warren wrote. “Every year, I baked her a birthday cake.”
The senator wrote that she has continued the tradition of baking a heart-shaped cake on Valentine’s Day to remember her mother — even after Herring’s death in 1995.
But with President Donald Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress looking to repeal the Affordable Care Act, this year’s cake — baked between last weekend’s snowstorms — also served as a reminder of the importance of regular access to health care, Warren wrote:
…when my mother was 83, seemingly strong and healthy, she needed to have some minor surgery – and everything went fine. The teenage nieces and nephews took her on wheelchair races down the hallways, and we all laughed and had juice and cookies. We went home that evening expecting her to be released from the hospital the next day.
In the middle of the night, my brother called. He said Mama was dead. Daddy had been sitting with her when she leaned forward and said, “Don, there’s that gas pain again.” Then she died. The autopsy showed that she had advanced heart disease – never diagnosed, and never treated. No one had any idea.
According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women and results in one of three deaths each year. It is also the leading killer of men, accounting for nearly a quarter of all deaths, according to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control.
According to the CDC, preventive health care is key to protecting against risk factors for heart disease. Warren says that repealing the ACA puts that health care for some at risk.
“The Affordable Care Act gives women (and men) access to free annual wellness exams to detect and monitor heart disease,” she wrote, adding that the law (also known as Obamacare) has also expanded health care access to women and those with pre-existing conditions, as well as serious or chronic illness. Citing medical experts in Massachusetts, the senator wrote that repealing the law would reverse those trends.
So this Valentine’s Day, Warren wrote that the heart-shaped cake won’t be the only way she remembers her mother.
“Fighting for the Affordable Care Act seems like the right way to celebrate the people you love,” she wrote.