Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer Announces She is Living with Endometriosis

March 5, 2020
Press Release
Finkenauer introduces historic House Endometriosis Caucus during a House floor speech

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer (IA-01) announced she is living with endometriosis, a condition she was first diagnosed with at 18-years-old.

Thursday afternoon, Finkenauer publicly spoke about living with endometriosis during a speech on the U.S. House floor. Finkenauer is the first House Member to talk about living with endometriosis on the House Floor. Finkenauer’s fiancé, Daniel Wasta of Cedar Rapids, IA., was in the House gallery during the speech.

“We are very much looking forward to our life together and especially have talked about raising a family one day in Iowa and how much that means to us,” Finkenauer said. “Around four weeks ago, on a Friday after votes, I was doubled over in pain and looking up hysterectomies. I was there considering an option that would take away my chance to have kids because of this condition. 1 in 10 women are in that exact same position as endometriosis is the leading reason for hysterectomies in women 30-34-years-old. We need more research funding and women need to know it is okay to talk about this condition.”

Finkenauer also announced the formation of the first-ever Congressional Endometriosis Caucus. Finkenauer will serve as chairwoman of the caucus with co-chair Congresswoman Jenniffer González-Colón (R-PR). Finkenauer formally introduced the caucus Thursday afternoon during a speech on the House floor.

“Working through severe pain is part of life for millions of women all over this country, and it is time we stand up and fight for them,” Congresswoman Finkenauer said. “I am so grateful to have Congresswoman González-Colón and many others join this effort to make sure endometriosis gets the attention and funding that it demands. It is a condition that makes life harder for millions of women all over our country, and we want to make sure women know it is okay to talk about living with endometriosis – it doesn’t make you weak.”

Congresswoman González-Colon said, “There are approximately 50,000 women in Puerto Rico who are currently suffering from endometriosis. Women with this diagnosis frequently experience severe symptoms due to inflammation and pelvic pain, which requires frequent medical attention and at times surgery. Therefore, it is important to highlight the importance of regular medical attention and research. I am proud to serve as Co-Chair of the bipartisan Endometriosis Caucus and partner with colleagues in Congress to be of assistance to women who live with endometriosis. I am confident the Caucus will provide a platform to raise awareness and educate about this condition, while working to find viable solutions and resources to support treatment.”

Joining Finkenauer and González-Colón in the House Endometriosis Caucus: Colin Allred (D-TX), Cindy Axne (D-IA), Nanette Barragan (D-CA), Cheri Bustos (D-IL), Joe Cunningham (D-SC), Sharice Davids (D-KS), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Antonio Delgado (D-NY), Veronica Escobar (D-TX), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Kendra Horn (D-OK), Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), Susie Lee (D-NV), Nita Lowey (D-NY), Grace Meng (D-NY), Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-FL), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Kathleen Rice (D-NY), Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA), Brad Schneider (D-IL), David Scott (D-GA), Haley Stevens (D-MI), Xochitl Torres Small (D-NM), Lauren Underwood (D-IL), and Marc Veasey (D-TX).

The caucus will seek more federal funding for research in order to find new potential treatments and cures for endometriosis.

The caucus is supported by the Endometriosis Foundation of America.

"Women with endometriosis needed a powerful voice on Capitol Hill, and today they got it! Thank you to the caucus, and thank you, Congresswoman Finkenauer, for sharing your story and becoming that voice. As a doctor, I see firsthand the toll endo takes on my patients: years of misdiagnosis, infertility, loss of overall quality of life, and hysterectomies. Prioritizing research and awareness, which ensures early detection and timely intervention, is key to treating this disease and giving women back the lives they deserve" Tamer Seckin, MD, Co-founder, Endometriosis Foundation of America

"Thank you, Congresswoman Finkenauer and the House Endometriosis Caucus, for taking the lead to increase endometriosis awareness, funding, and research. You are offering hope today to millions of women who have endometriosis.  We are pleased to be working with you towards finding better diagnosis and treatment options - and hopefully, one day a cure!", said Margaret Cianci, Executive Director, Endometriosis Foundation of America. 

The caucus will use “#UpEndo” in its social media campaign to drive awareness of the caucus and endometriosis. 

Support for House Endometriosis Caucus 

“Finally! I’m so excited that this is happening. I along with millions of other women who suffer from Endo have been waiting for someone to hear us in Washington. The fact that this caucus has bi-partisan support is even better, because endometriosis doesn’t discriminate, and neither should we. This illness costs us $78 billion a year. Thank you Congresswoman Finkenauer and all others who have worked on this.”, said Padma Laksmhi - Author & Host/Executive Producer, and Co-Founder of the Endometriosis Foundation of America.

Background 

An estimated seven million women in the United States are living with endometriosis, about one in ten women.

According to the Endometriosis Foundation of America, endometriosis occurs when tissue similar to the lining of the uterus, or endometrium, migrates outside of the womb, where the tissue should not be. The result is inflammation, as the tissue responds to the monthly fluctuations of a woman's menstrual cycle. The disease affects an estimated 200 million women worldwide. Currently, there is no known cause of endometriosis, and there is no cure.

  • Endometriosis is the leading cause of hysterectomy in women 30-34 years old
  • Nearly half of all women who experience infertility have symptoms of endometriosis
  • Women suffer for seven to ten years before being diagnosed with endometriosis 

While more common than other diseases, endometriosis research has historically received a fraction of the research funding.