You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: End Abortion Coverage Bans.
New year, same as the old year. Except slightly worse. The newly GOP-lead Congress announced their priorities for the 114th legislative session by exhaling the final word of the oath of office, removing their hands from their Bibles, and — without so much as pausing — introducing a slate of abortion restrictions.
Because jobs? and national security? and…maybe they didn’t actually run on anything and this was always the plan. Their very unproductive plan to make restricting people’s bodily autonomy seem not so extreme and, in fact, mostly OK ahead of the presidential primary fundraising set to begin any moment.
The first vote was scheduled for January 22nd which marked the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade — the seminal date in reproductive rights. They seem to have either zero recognition of history or zero shame — unsurprising from a group that voted over fifty times to repeal the Affordable Care Act, knowing that any bill they passed would be vetoed.
Similarly, the White House has promised to veto any anti-choice bills that make it through both the House and the Senate — but we can’t rely forever on the West Wing to be a stop gap for bad laws. And the one that passed last week — H.R.7 — is extremely bad policy.
H.R. 7 — the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2015 — would make federal funding for abortion care double, extra, super secret illegal. It’s already on the books thanks to the Hyde Amendment which gets attached annually to the federal budget to prohibit people insured by Medicaid from using their coverage for abortion care. HR 7 would expand that access restriction to absolutely everyone in the country, no matter their insurance provider.
Privately purchased plans, employer-provided plans, ACA plans — none would be allowed to offer abortion coverage. So much for the free market.
As Emily Crockett reports at RH Reality Check, the medical community — who deal daily with patients struggling to afford care — are none to happy about H.R.7. Hal C. Lawrence, executive vice president and CEO of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists — the group we probably should be listening to on this as they’re the experts — expressed his concern:
“We remain disappointed that the House leadership continues to target abortion by pivoting to payment policies. Medical care must be guided by sound science and by the patient’s individual needs, not by legislative mandates or financial concerns.”
H.R. 7 is making its way to the Senate; you can track it’s progress at GovTrack.us and then use ContactingTheCongress.org to let your Senators know you expect them to vote “no” when it hits the floor.
Even when H.R.7 is defeated, low-income Americans will be facing the renewal of the Hyde Amendment. Congress has seen fit to actually pass a budget the past couple of years, which means some GOP legislator will reintroduce Hyde to maintain the punishment of the poor. Disadvantaged Americans have long been on the legislative chopping block, used as tools and talking points by ambitious politicians without fear of reprisal.
As the group All* Above All says in their letter to end Hyde: "It’s time to stop abortion coverage restrictions, plain and simple.”
You can sign their letter to your representatives at AllAboveAll.org under the “Act” tab. If you are in a blue state, you have additional power here. Your representatives should be at least “check the box” pro-choice and moveable on this. The president has also revised his language on abortion and come out unapologetically without couched language against H.R. 7; it’s time he did the same with Hyde. President Obama can end this continual punishment of low-income and marginalized communities by promising to veto a budget that includes Hyde.
The importance of ending coverage bans cannot be overstated. Only 13% of counties in the U.S. even have abortion providers thanks to TRAP laws and attacks since Roe. The affects of these bans is explained perfectly by Heidi Williamson, the Senior Policy Analyst for the Women’s Health and Rights Program at the Center for American Progress and long-time reproductive justice advocate:
"We celebrate Roe as a standard and a vision that we must continue to strive for as a nation. All women, regardless of age, gender, income, socio-economic status, or funding source of insurance should benefit from its promise. And our fight for justice isn’t done until all woman have comprehensive reproductive health care, including the access to abortion services.”
SIGN NARAL Pro-Choice America’s petitions to the 114th Congress:
Graphic courtesy of The Repeal Hyde Art Project
See who the H.R.7 co-sponsors were: Congressional Bill Tracker — H.R.7
"Roe Should Be a Reality for All, Not Just for a Wealthy Few” by Heidi Williamson at TalkPoverty.org
"Congress Rejected A 20-Week Abortion Ban, But These States Didn’t” by Tara Culp-Ressler at ThinkProgress
Hear the segment in context:
Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich