08 July 2009

Reproductive Health: Once Again, Ripe for Conservative Compromise

With the health care reform debate in full swing, it's become frighteningly clear that key elements of reproductive health care are in danger of being barred from whatever package emerges from Congress. The National Women's Law Center, a Ms. Foundation grantee, today wrote, "Republican members of the Senate Finance Committee are demanding the introduction of health care reform language that will strip women's access to abortion." And it's not just Republicans. As Time Magazine reports, a group of conservative House Democrats sent a letter at the end of June to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stating that they "cannot support any health-care-reform proposal unless it explicitly excludes abortion from the scope of any government-defined or subsidized health-insurance plan."

Anti-choice demands from both sides of the aisle would have dangerous implications for women--and their families, and their communities. They would further cement the deeply discriminatory Hyde Amendment, which since 1976, has prohibited the use of federal funds to cover abortion, with an overwhelming impact on low-income women and women of color. They could also prohibit coverage of abortion for millions of women who are now guaranteed it by their private health insurance.

So, once again, women's health and human rights are framed as a "wedge issue" and as such, considered ripe for compromise. And it isn't just women, of course. As Raising Women's Voices, another Ms. Foundation grantee at the forefront of the health care debate, writes, "If conservatives get their way on health reform, we will soon have quality, affordable health care for all --- except for women, terminally ill patients, gays and lesbians, people with HIV and anybody else conservatives don't like!" And let's not forget that women's health is intimately connected to the health and economic well-being of children, families and communities. Nobody can afford to let this pass.

The Senate Finance Committee is meeting this week. Take action by contacting your senator at help_comments@help.senate.gov if s/he is on the Committee (find out here) and urge her/him to refuse such politically-motivated exclusions and ensure access to comprehensive reproductive health services for all women.

No comments:

Post a Comment