Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Touche, Stupak-Pitt!

Hi everyone, I'm Hannah, and I'm interning at NARAL Pro-Choice CT this winter. My arrival is quite serendipitous, I must say, because only in the past ten days, women's reproductive rights has become a front-burner issue in the national health care debate. Well, it has aways been a front-burner issue for us, right? But the Stupak-Pitts amendment is really giving us something to work with.

The bill that was passed creates a new health insurance exchange that will cover the vast majority of uninsured Americans by providing them with either 1.) federal subsidies with which to purchase a private plan, or 2.) a public plan. The Hyde amendment, passed in the '70s, holds that federal dollars can't be used to fund abortions. So, no abortion coverage in the public plan. The Stupak amendment, which was tacked on the health care bill at the 11th hour, takes Hyde one (slash many) steps further by prohibiting federal subsidies from being spent on private plans that offer abortion coverage. This is utter insanity because approximately 80% of consumers will need, and use, federal subsidies -- aka a lot of people -- and it is a strong incentive for insurance companies to discontinue abortion coverage in order to tap into this new market of consumers.

So, the 17 million women who are uninsured and millions more that are underinsured will not have access to abortion coverage in the new health care exchange. Moreover, it is feared that women who currently have plans that offer abortion coverage will lose it as the employer-based system gradually erodes so employers can save money. In this sense, Obama's promise that people who are happy with their health care won't have to change it does NOT hold true.

This is the bare-bones basic idea, as I am still learning. Definitely go out and read up on it in 101 different places. Here are a couple links if you aren't sure where to start: NARAL Pro-Choice American has some info and resources on their website. Also check out the issue brief from Planned Parenthood, and Kay Steiger's blog, which has a bunch of links that were extremely interesting and informative to me. Feministing.com, of which I am a humungo fan, will also be extremely on top of what's happening. Please comment if you have a blog or newspaper that we should follow!

At dinner last night, my dad sweetly and supportively told me, "social change takes time." He's right. It took around 80 years for women to get the vote, after all. I can't help but feel impatient, however, because this is something that affects ME RIGHT NOW. And it affects millions of other women right now. But, there is still hope, because this thing isn't over. The vote in the Senate will be taking place in the near future and we gotta sound the alarm! If you live in CT, call Chris Dodd and Joe Lieberman. Also, don't miss the following phone banking opportunities THIS WEEK: Pro-Choice CT will be contacting Delaware activists reminding them to bug their senators, and Pro-Choice New York will be doing the same for Floridians.

It's easy to participate in a phone bank -- and you can take on as much as you want, and do it from the comfort of your home/dorm. You'll be calling NARAL members and activists, remember, which means a lower risk of mean hang-ups. Email Jillian, Pro-Choice CT's exec director, at jillian@pro-choicect.org to sign up!

Take a moment and comment below -- how do you feel about what's happening? Are you unsurprised? Is your mind boggled? Do you feel like people around you or on your campus understand what's happening? Let us know!

No comments: