Each week, Our Bodies, Our Blog will take a look at what’s happening in Washington and in the new Obama administration related to women’s health and well-being. This first week included major highs and lows:
Lilly Ledbetter thanked her supporters today in a statement released by the National Women’s Law Center:
I can’t say thank you enough to the thousands of you who’ve worked with us in this fight. Your e-mails to Congress, your phone calls, and your letters of support have meant so much to me and to the movement for pay equity for all women. We knew we could count on you — and we couldn’t have done it without you.
In the months and years to come, the fight for fair pay will go on. We’re still fighting to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, and there will be other fronts in battle to close the wage gap once and for all. But we’ve taken an enormous step forward today. Thanks for taking that step with me.
Economic Stimulus Bill
Earlier this week Obama wasn’t in such good graces, as he urged Democrats to drop expansion of family planning funds from the economic stimulus bill. The provision would have allowed states to extend Medicaid family planning coverage to women with incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid, without the states first having to obtain a waiver from HHS.
Obama’s maneuvering may or may not have amounted to much, writes Katha Pollitt:
There are people who thought Obama practiced some clever political jiu-jitsu by bending over backwards to meet Republican objections. Supposedly, this bipartisan gesture would make it harder for Republicans to reject the bill. Whoops, guess not: House Republicans just voted against it unanimously. Backup theory: Well, now Obama looks reasonable and statesmanlike, while Republicans look rigid and insane. The stimulus will pass, and Republicans will get no credit. Low-income women get the shaft, but they should be used to it by now.
Read her whole column; it’s the best rebuttal I’ve read all week to arguments that birth control doesn’t belong in the stimulus bill.
Global Gag Rule
Last Friday Obama lifted the global gag rule, overturning eight years of Republican policy that prevented overseas family planning groups that receive U.S. funding from speaking about abortion. The Senate on Wednesday voted 60-37 to reject an amendment that would have reinstated the global gag rule as part of legislation to reauthorize the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.
RH Reality Check published two good pieces concerning the repeal. One discusses the effects of the gag rule on the ground; the other looks at how better to fund and address reproductive and sexual health internationally now that the gag rule is gone.
RAND Health, a division of the RAND Corporation, this month unveiled an online platform to assess healthcare reform policies. Called COMPARE, it’s described as “a transparent, evidence-based approach to providing information and tools to help policymakers, the media, and other interested parties understand, design, and evaluate health policies.” Meet the advisory committee.
Here’s a list of COMPARE’s objectives:
- Synthesize what is known about the current health care system.
- Describe policy options that have been proposed to address one or more existing challenges.
- Analyze the effects of different health care policy options on multiple dimensions of health system performance.
- Identify gaps in our knowledge about the effects of policy changes.
* Support the Children’s Health Insurance Program
Send a message to your senators to support CHIP (National Women’s Law Center)
* Expand Access to Family Planning Services
Send a message to your representative, senator and President Obama (National Partnership for Women & Families)
* Ask President Obama to Stand Up for Family Planning
Call the White House comment line (RH Reality Check)