Monday, November 16, 2009

Health Care Reform Needs to Include Full Reproductive Rights

Reform is necessary in order to make health care more affordable, particularly for women, who are often charged higher premiums than men. Holding other factors constant, a 22-year-old woman can be charged one and a half times the premium rate of a 22-year-old man.

The health care debate should focus on how we can support women's health and well-being by expanding access to health care and eliminating the double standard that treats a woman differently than a man when it comes to coverage. No woman should be worse off as a result of health care reform.

Unfortunately, the Stupak amendment in the House Bill threatens to do just that. This amendment reaches much further than the Hyde Amendment (which has prohibited public funding of abortion in most instances since 1977) by banning abortion in the new public option. Even enrollees in the public plan who pay premiums with their own money would be blocked from getting abortion care as part of their benefits package.

This amendment bans abortions in private health insurance plans for women receiving public subsidies. The Stupak amendment could cause millions of women who have abortion coverage to lose it, effectively ending coverage for abortion services. Women who could afford to could pay extra for a "rider" policy to cover such services, but the very nature of unplanned pregnancies makes this an illogical and impractical notion.

The Senate is currently working on and will need to vote on their health care bill. Please contact your Senators and tell them to support full reproductive rights for women.

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