11 December 2009

Health Care and Immigrant Women's Rights: New York Times Letter by Ms. Foundation Grantee

As we noted in our last post, Ms. Foundation grantees like the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health are connecting health care reform to key issues like immigrants' rights. Yesterday, NLIRH Executive Director Sylvia Henriquez addressed this critical link in a letter to the editor published by the New York Times:
To the Editor:

Re “Coverage Without Borders,” by Roger Mahony (Op-Ed, Dec. 8):

Cardinal Mahony’s article in favor of health care access for immigrants is an important message to elected officials grappling with reform legislation. Sadly, I couldn’t help note the irony of advocating on behalf of immigrants, while in the same breath urging policy makers to deny reproductive health care for millions of women. Over half of all immigrants are women.

The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health knows very well the devastating impact of making abortion elusive for those who can’t pay with personal funds. Latinas are among the poorest in this country and tend to lack access to health insurance in higher numbers than other groups. In fact, one in four women living in poverty who wants to choose abortion can’t because politicians prevent federal tax dollars from covering the procedure.

The lesson learned from the last three decades of misguided federal policy on abortion is that creating a two-tier system of access to health care is unfair, punitive and harmful.

To quote Cardinal Mahony: “To allow people’s basic health needs to be trumped by divisive politics violates American standards of decency and compassion.” We couldn’t agree more.

Silvia Henriquez
Executive Director
National Latina Institute
for Reproductive Health
New York, Dec. 8, 2009

08 December 2009

Stop Stupak -- The Reinforcements

"The reinforcements have arrived!" exclaimed one legislator in response to the hundreds of women’s health advocates who poured into Washington, DC on December 2. More than 500 advocates from 30 states across the country demanded that the final version of health care reform legislation not include language further restricting women’s access to abortion coverage.

Ms. Foundation grantees were a visible, powerful presence during last Wednesday’s “Rally and Lobby Day.” Notably, representatives of grantee partners National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health and SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Health Collective took to the stage to speak to the need to connect the fight for women’s reproductive health, rights and justice to other social justice movements, including immigrants’ rights and environmental justice. They joined our other health care grantees we reported on last week.

Ms. Foundation grantee organizations are leaders in the growing reproductive justice movement, which responds directly to the impact of low-income women’s lack of economic, social and political power on the full-range of reproductive health decisions. Read here for further examples of the reproductive justice work supported by the Ms. Foundation. To partner with us in this important work, make a gift; your contribution will be worth twice as much, thanks to a generous $100,000 challenge grant.

This afternoon, debate begins on the Nelson Amendment, the Senate version of Stupak Amendment. Read Ms. Foundation grantee partner Raising Women’s Voices coverage and analysis of the deliberations.

Reinforcements, indeed.

01 December 2009

Stop Stupak!

This Wednesday, December 2, hundreds of women, including Ms. Foundation grantees, will head to Washington, D.C. to rally and lobby against a potential rollback of women’s basic rights that would deny abortion coverage to millions of women who currently have it and to millions more who lack access today. Click here for more information on the Stop Stupak Campaign.

It is extraordinary that in 2009 women’s right to reproductive care of their choosing is on the chopping block again. The Stupak Amendment is wrong and regressive, and goes well beyond reinforcing the Hyde Amendment—already harmful in its own right—despite what mainstream media is saying. As the Senate debates its health care bill, we expect them to do better. It is simply unacceptable—and contradictory—to trade away women’s access to reproductive services under the guise of expanding care. And who will be most impacted? Ultimately, all women and their families, but disproportionally low-income women and women of color. Once again, Congress runs the risk of creating another exclusionary policy when we should be striving for inclusive and equitable solutions—and most certainly within the context of the stated goals of health care reform.

Our health care grantee organizations Communications Consortium Media Center, Raising Women’s Voices for the Health Care We Need and Women of Color United for Health Reform are on the front lines mobilizing to prevent Stupak or a similar Senate amendment from becoming law. Together, they continue to elevate the voices of low-income women and women of color for truly inclusive, equitable reform.