03 February 2010

Don't Give Up on Health Care Justice

Every day seems to bring a new article forecasting the imminent demise of President Obama’s health care reform legislation. The loss of Ted Kennedy’s seat upended the slim filibuster-proof supermajority the Democrats needed to pass the bill safely; television ad spending has slowed from $1 million per day to $1 million per week, signaling a decreased urgency to influence public opinion; and now even solid democratic representatives are said to be losing enthusiasm for reform.

Amid such dire predictions, it is easy to lose heart. That is why it’s essential to keep the conversation alive, to reach out to other activists and advocates, and to demand progress. Now is the time to make sure our voices are heard, to make sure our government knows that we need comprehensive health care reform that supports women, women of color and immigrants. We must reiterate our support today.

Ms. Foundation grantees around the country are committed to keeping this dialogue moving forward. Last week Raising Women’s Voices, the National Women’s Law Center and Women of Color United for Health Reform (all Ms. Foundation grantees) participated in the Health Action 2010 conference in Washington, DC, which brought together 700 advocates from across the country, featured speakers such as Sen. Al Franken and Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett, and demonstrated that there’s still a strong base working to ensure this issue won’t disappear into legislative limbo.

But, as we continue to fight for effective reform, we must remember that comprehensive health care includes policies that support our most vulnerable populations; we must remember that reproductive health and justice are integral to health care justice. As Loretta Ross of Ms. Foundation grantee SisterSong, writes on RH Reality Check, we cannot give up on our commitment to reform that upholds the rights of all women in this country:
“Will national political leaders wake up to the reality that poor women and rural women in states like Kentucky suffer most when the federal government compromises on access to reproductive health care? Will President Obama offer policies to substantiate his brilliant rhetoric? Will he support our human rights to have children, or to not have children? To parent our children in safe and healthy environments which are the cornerstones of reproductive justice?”

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