Reproductive Health: The Facts on Health Care Reform, Georgia and Lilith Fair (Yes, All of the Above)

By Christine Cupaiuolo — March 31, 2010

Putting HCR in Context: The Guttmacher Institute looks at the pros and cons of health care reform as it relates to reproductive health, including sex education, Medicaid expansion and funding for public health programs.

The research institute notes that insurance companies not only would have to “jump through numerous, unprecedented hoops to estimate the cost of abortion coverage and ensure that the abortion payments never mix with other funds,” but “they also are likely to face extensive public scrutiny and protest around their action.”

All told, according to an analysis by George Washington University’s Sara Rosenbaum, “the more logical response” for private insurers marketing plans within the exchanges — and eventually in the broader market as well — “would be not to sell products that cover abortion services.”

Plus: Drawing from its Congressional record, NARAL flags Republicans who have voted against reproductive rights and who also warned HRC would lead to government intrusion on private medical decisions.

Lasting ConsequencesKatha Pollitt talks with Carol Joffe, author of “Dispatches from the Abortion Wars: The Costs of Fanaticism to Doctors, Patients, and the Rest of Us,” about the effect of HRC on women’s reproductive rights and health. Joffe discusses the good, the bad and the ugly — which refers to the marginalization of abortion.

President Obama and Democratic Congresswomen repeatedly said, “This is a health care bill, not an abortion bill.” I understand why they said it. They felt this was the only way to get the bill through and perhaps they were right. But abortion is health care! One out of three women has an abortion during her reproductive years. One of the best ways to reduce the stigma around abortion is to normalize the procedure within mainstream health care settings. The mantra “this is a health care bill, not an abortion bill” reinforces exactly the opposite message.

Plus: In a separate piece written earlier this month, Katha Pollitt offers concrete suggestions on how the Democratic Party and the Obama administration can repay supporters of women’s rights for cooperating on HRC, including taking steps to improve maternal care and outcomes, and full funding for Title X and the Violence Against Women Act. I love the ending:

Speaking of violence against women, Dems, would you look in the effing mirror? New York’s Hiram Monserrate and David Paterson? Scott Lee Cohen in Illinois? That these men and others like them could get as far as they did says the culture of the party is tone-deaf when it comes to abuse and its warning signs. The only way to detoxify politics of tolerance for violence is to have lots more women in office. If India can pass a law requiring Parliament to be one-third women, surely the Democratic Party can figure out how to achieve equal numbers of women here. Pro-choice women. Feminist women.

Start by backing the grassroots campaign of former teacher and county commissioner Connie Saltonstall, who has announced her intention to challenge Bart Stupak in the August primary. “He has a right to his personal, religious views,” says Saltonstall, “but to deprive his constituents of needed healthcare reform because of those views is reprehensible.” Now there’s a woman with gumption and a gift for stating things clearly.

In Other News …

Revisions to On-Air Abortion Language: NPR reporters will no longer use the terms pro-choice and pro-life to describe both sides of the abortion rights debate. Instead, according to an internal memo:

On the air, we should use “abortion rights supporter(s)/advocate(s)” and “abortion rights opponent(s)” or derivations thereof (for example: “advocates of abortion rights”). It is acceptable to use the phrase “anti-abortion”, but do not use the term “pro-abortion rights”.

Digital News will continue to use the AP style book for online content, which mirrors the revised NPR policy.

Do not use “pro-life” and “pro-choice” in copy except when used in the name of a group. Of course, when the terms are used in an actuality they should remain.” [An actuality is a clip of tape of someone talking. So if a source uses those terms, NPR will not edit them out.]

Georgia Senate Passes Abortion Bill: The latest assault on women’s reproductive health in Georgia is SB 529, a Senate bill that makes it possible to bring criminal charges against doctors, boyfriends, pimps and even parents if they encourage a woman to have an abortion. The bill’s supporters frame it as a way to protect women — especially women of color — but women’s health advocates say the true motivation is to criminalize abortion.

“This bill was created under the false assumption that abortion doctors solicit women of color, particularly, black women,” said Democratic State Sen. Donzella James. “This bill calls into question all who make a deeply private and personal medical decision. Every woman, regardless of ethnic background, should have the ability to make personal decisions. Not the people in this room. It is between, she, her family and God.”

Heidi Williamson of Sister Song has more. “Publicly, white Republican men claim to care about pregnant black women who are allegedly being targeted by the abortion industry. Privately, those same men scramble to ‘opt Georgia out’ of national healthcare reform and find the perfect wedge issue for the mid-term elections to build the Republican base in African-American communities,” she writes.

We previously discussed an anti-abortion billboard campaign in Georgia targeting black women  that proclaims black children are an endangered species. Women’s eNews reports that the campaign may soon go national. For more on the difference in abortion rates among women, see this Guttmacher Institute policy report, which notes that black and Hispanic women have higher abortion rates than white women because they have higher rates of unintended pregnancy.

What’s Up With Lilith Fair?: After announcing that it would donate a dollar from every ticket sold to a women’s organization in each of the 36 host cities, Lilith Fair is coming under fire for including organizations that don’t support a full range of reproductive services.

Apparently, the only vetting Lilith did was to look online for women-focused organizations with federal tax ID numbers. Jessica Hopper interviewed Nettwerk CEO and Lilith cofounder Terry McBride about the selection process and received a less-than-informed response.

“The seeding at the start was done with a basic digital search in each market of woman’s charities,” he said. “It’s not perfect. Nor could it be, as we simply don’t have the local expertise even within our own city of Vancouver.”

Really? Lilith couldn’t have contacted local women’s health advocates, or put a few interns on the project? Perhaps the festival should include a booth for organizers on research skills.

There’s always a chance for improvement. Facebook fans will vote on the selected organizations, and the top three vote-getters in each city will be forwarded to Lilith founders — Sarah McLachlan, Terry McBride, Dan Fraser and Marty Diamond — who will hand pick the winners. And organizations not currently featured can self-submit for consideration. Read more at the Chicago Reader.

Comments are closed.