In 1970, U.S. Representative (D-NY) and NOW member Shirley Chisholm wrote:
Women are dying every day, did you know that? They’re being butchered and maimed. No matter what men think, abortion is a fact of life. Women will have them; they always have and always will. Are they going to have good ones or bad ones? Will the good ones be reserved for the rich while poor women have to go to quacks? Why don’t we talk about real problems instead of phony ones?
This quote is from her first book Unbought and Unbossed, now available in a 40th anniversary edition. Unfortunately, the battle for reproductive justice is far from over. As it was true in1970, abortions are easily obtained by the rich, while the poor are left to fend for themselves–Roe v. Wade legalized the procedure in 1973, but the 1977 Hyde Amendment barred Medicaid funds from paying for it.
Minnesota’s own Pro-Choice Resources created the Hersey Abortion Assistance Fund to, in their words, “dismantle the economic restrictions and barriers to information that make vital reproductive health care inaccessible for too many women, especially young women, women of color, and poor women.”
Earlier today, pro-life blogger Jill Stanek announced gleefully that the Hersey Fund was out of money. A cursory glance at the rantings on Jill’s page should be enough to drive you to Pro-Choice Resources’ web page to make your safe, secure donation to the HAAF. The words of one recipient:
I had nowhere to go, no money and no one to talk to. I called the Hersey Abortion Assistance Fund number and for the first time in 2 months I felt I could breathe again, the lady that I talked to seemed so caring and understanding. They don’t just give you money they help you emotionally and when you go through something like that it means more than all the money in the world. I could never thank them enough.
If you can spare even a small donation for the HAAF, please do so today.
The rally starts at NOON, TODAY, WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 2, in the toasty warm rotunda of the State Capitol in St. Paul. Look for your MN NOW friends with our round blue signs!
Welcome (5 min)
Linnea House, Executive Director, NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota Foundation
Minnesota Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (5 min)
Rev. T. Michael Scott
Pro-Choice Resources (5 min)
Karen Law/Melissa Winship
Minnesota NOW (5 min)
Shannon Drury/Barb Peterson
Betty Folliard of Rep. Keith Ellison’s office (5 min)
Wrap Up (2 min)
The Big Lie — Abortion Rights Opponents Mislead on Stupak-Pitts
We know our opponents lie and mislead the public. They are doing a lot of that right now in trying to counter factual information coming from NOW and our allies about abortion restrictions in House health care reform legislation (H.R. 3692). Their tactic is to assure the public that the Stupak-Pitts Amendment will not have much of an effect on anyone’s insurance coverage for abortion care. This, of course, is far from the truth and activists need to make sure that women know that Stupak-Pitts is a serious threat to abortion access.
A form letter sent by MINNESOTA’S VERY OWN Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.) to a constituent implies that the Stupak-Pitts Amendment will not affect coverage that women pay for with private funds. The letter reads: “The Stupak-Pitts Amendment states that individuals buying insurance on the exchange may still purchase coverage that includes abortions as long as no federal money is used. It also says that insurers may still offer abortion coverage as long as such coverage, and the administrative structure behind it, is not supported by federal money….”
In fact, any and all health insurance plans offered through the newly created regional health exchanges will not be permitted to offer abortion coverage if there are any individuals in those plans who receive government “affordability credits.”
Some 36 million low- and moderate-income persons who currently are uninsured or underinsured will be seeking insurance through these exchanges — with many relying on government subsidies to help pay the premiums. Their huge presence will likely mean that nearly all insurance plans will serve people who receive government subsidies, meaning that they cannot offer abortion care coverage to any policyholders, even those who pay 100 percent of the premium with their own money.
Stupak-Pitts’ apologists say that each exchange will have at least one plan offering coverage. But the goal and the effect of this dangerous amendment is to dramatically restrict women’s access to abortion care. Abortion is one of the most common medical procedures and will be sought by a substantial number of women of child-bearing age. The Oberstar letter claims that those women who can’t obtain insurance coverage for abortion can buy a separate abortion rider. Please. How likely is that to happen? An independent check on the current availability of abortion riders in insurance found none.
The most likely scenario, should Stupak-Pitts become law, is that insurance companies would avoid the hassle of having audits of their plans and meeting other restrictive criteria by simply not offering coverage for abortion services altogether. A recently released study by the School of Public Health and Health Services at George Washington University concludes that insurance companies would have to re-design offerings in order to avoid violating abortion restrictions, and that would ultimately have a broad chilling effect, even for private, employer-based insurance.
Help spread the truth about the Stupak-Pitts Amendment, and call your senators right away to ensure that similar restrictions are not included in the Senate version of the health care reform bill. Senate contact information can be found online.
GW University Report (PDF)
Washington, DC Office: 1-888-224-9043
Minneapolis Office: 612-727-5220
Washington, DC Office: (202) 224-5641
St. Paul Office: (651) 221-1016
Here’s what you can say:
I’m a member of the Minnesota chapter of the National Organization for Women, and I’m calling on behalf of millions of women to let you know just how disgusted we by the health reform bill that passed the House.
The Stupak-Pitts Amendment was brought to the floor after a late-night, backroom deal with religious zealots, and as a result, women could be facing the most serious challenge ever to our constitutionally protected reproductive rights.
The Stupak-Pitts Amendment was unnecessary: The Hyde Amendment already ensures that no federal funds will be used to pay for abortion –regardless of whatever health care bill becomes law.
The Stupak-Pitts Amendment would, for the first time, make it difficult or impossible for women spending even 100% of their own money to cover abortion through private insurance plans … if they happen to have purchased insurance through a health insurance exchange.
This is unconscionable and I urge the Senator to take a strong stand against any similar measures. NOW will not support health reform that harms women. I will be watching your actions closely in the coming weeks.
Ask when your Senators will be in town, and request meetings with each of them. If you are unable to meet in person with a Senator, ask to meet with a staff person dealing with health insurance reform. Bring several NOW members with you if you can.
We must hold our elected officials accountable. TAKE ACTION NOW!
…courtesy of Urban Dictionary.com:
A medical condition (subset of sepsis) resulting from unsafe -unnecessarily so – back alley abortions as a result of the “Stupak Amendment” to the 2009 Health Care Reform Bill.
(Three weeks later.)
Doctor: I believe you’ve developed Stupak, a form of sepsis, a severe illness in which the bloodstream is overwhelmed by bacteria.