This article from RH Reality Check outlines the challenges faced by women of low income in the search for abortion – women may not be able to afford it and not eligible for federal or state funds, many insurance companies claim they cover elective abortions, but may not have providers in the region, or women face obstacles like 24 hour waiting periods or parental notification. Despite these obstacles, legislators are talking up their concerns about abortion provision in the health care bills. Give me a break.
Last night there were amendments to the Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 proposed and subsequently shot down by the Energy and Commerce Committee in the House of Representatives. These amendments would have expanded abstinence only education programs among other things. From RH Reality Check:
“By promoting evidence-based teen pregnancy and STI prevention programs, the Committee, under the leadership of Representative Waxman, has taken an important step toward ensuring young people get the critical sexual health information they need to make responsible decisions about their lives.”
An article by Kim Custer from themorningcall.com addresses the issue of community health centers, specifically women’s health centers like Planned Parenthood. She says:
“Today, one in four women who receives contraceptive care does so at a women’s health center. One in six who obtains a Pap test or a pelvic exam does so at a women’s health center, as do one-third of women who receive counseling, testing or treatment for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. This basic health care is essential, particularly during difficult economic times, to give women the tools they need to protect and support their families. This is particularly true when you consider that women of childbearing age spend a remarkable 68 percent more in out-of-pocket health care costs than men, in part because of reproductive health-related needs.”
These numbers are too significant to ignore. Community health clinics are vital to the reproductive and sexual health of women.
An article from The American Prospect from a few days ago addressed the inequities in continuous health care coverage for women. Since women have fewer opportunities for employer-provided health insurance, straight women often depend on their partner’s health insurance to cover them. This makes women much more vulnerable to losing their health insurance due to relationship or family issues that disrupt the relationship that provides them coverage. Dana Goldstein makes the case in this article that “[women who experienced health disruptions] had a greater probability of experiencing a change in usual clinic/provider (71 percent), delaying filling or taking fewer medications than prescribed because of the cost (75 percent), going to the emergency room (52 percent), and had lower average mental health scores than women who did not experience an insurance disruption.”
This highlights the importance of providing women with health insurance that they choose, on their terms, and controlled by them. Women need self-determinations in all areas of life, and health insurance is an important piece of the puzzle.
This is a great article and related video from RH Reality Check about crisis pregnancy centers. These centers spread misinformation about abortion – the fabricated breast cancer risk increase being one of the most prominent. These centers are put generally around college campuses and target women looking for medically appropriate care.
Also, Our Bodies Our Blog reminding us to be who we are.
An article from Feministing about adult sex education.
Amy Rosenthal wrote an article about the unfortunate cuts many cities are making to their budgets that turn out to be cuts to women’s health care. One specific example she gives is cuts to the processing of rape kits in places like LA.
“These women are already rape victims. We should make sure they aren’t also victims of a poor justice system.”
Amen to that.
Yesterday rumors were flying and some folks are saying they’ve been confirmed. The Senate Finance Committee (SFC), in an effort to make health care into a bi-partisan effort, is considering a restriction on abortion funding with the passage of health care reform. This could mean not allowing a public health insurance plan to cover the cost of abortions for women. It is still unclear under what circumstances this provision would apply, but we want to make sure that you all are aware of what’s going on in the SFC!
This is potentially very dangerous, and poses a great risk for the health and lives of women all over this country. There is no excuse for excluding health benefits from health insurance plans based on politics and ideology. We don’t want politicians deciding what health care services we have and do not have. We need to look out for the women with the least access to resources and capital and ensure that their needs are represented.
Please contact your members of congress, encourage them to oppose this amendment or any language about restricting women’s access to reproductive health care services. We most strongly encourage women and men from states represented on the Senate Finance Committee to contact their representatives: Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Alaska, Oregon, New York, Michigan, Washington, Florida, New Jersey, Delaware, Iowa, Utah, Maine, Arizona, Kentucky, Idaho, Kansas, Nevada, and Texas. Make your voice heard and make sure this possibility doesn’t become a reality.
The White House announced on Friday that the first White House advisor on Violence Against Women will be Lynn Rosenthal, an activist who has been working in anti-violence and empowerment advocacy for many years. Check it out:
“In this new position, Rosenthal will be a liaison to the domestic violence and sexual assault advocacy community; coordinate with the Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women on implementation of Violence Against Women Act programs; coordinate with the Department of Health and Human Services on implementation of Family Violence Prevention Act services (including the National Domestic Violence Hotline); coordinate with the State Department and USAID on global domestic violence initiatives; and drive the development of new initiatives and policy aimed at combating domestic violence and sexual assault with advocacy groups and members of Congress.”
Read an article from Feministing, and a piece from the Family Violence Prevention Fund here. This appointment follows the Clinton-era 1994 Violence Against Women Act that was drafted by (then Senator) Joe Biden and by groups such as the National Organization for Women. It was last re-authorized by President George Bush in 2006 and will be up for another authorization in 2010.
With 4.8 million intimate partner assaults and rapes in this country per year, it is imperative that our government and our citizens get serious about preventing this. This issue is fresh in the minds of the public after the inexcusable violence against pop star Rihanna by her boyfriend, Chris Brown. Proof that intimate partner violence can, and does, happen to anyone.
Slowing the spread of HIV among pregnant women has been cited as the priority of the US global AIDS coordinator, Eric Goosby. He made a few comments in an interview stating what he hopes for global AIDS awareness and reduction – stressing the roles of education and prevention. He also stated that he is committed to getting antiretrovirals to pregnant women who need them. In addition, Goosby is interested in getting other nations more involved in the effort. Read the article from the National Partnership for Women and Families here.
Funding for primary reproductive and sexual health care in the United States and around the world has not been as robust as those participating in the first international conference on population development 15 years ago. Women continue to die of pregnancy-related infections, complications, and other issues related to the lack of services available. The United Nations Human Rights council adopted a resolution that classifies maternal death and sickness as human rights violations. This resolution will hopefully guide nations and international organizations to pressure governments to provide more comprehensive education and services. Specifically, it has been stated that “the work of the Human Rights Committee, just as an example, is clear: Where women are forced to risk their lives and health because safe abortion services are not available, governments are in violation of their international treaty obligations”. This is a very exciting development and something to be celebrated. Read the whole article about this UN resolution at RH Reality Check.