Elizabeth J. Clark, PhD, ACSW, MPH
NASW has been working in support of universal health care for all individuals for a very long time and most recently in support of health care reform legislation. We’ve advocated for a public option and recently supported H.R. 3200, America’s Affordable Health Choices Act. However, we are opposed to the Stupak-Pitts Amendment which would restrict access to abortion procedures for consumers who receive subsidies to buy insurance in a reconfigured health care system. Pro-choice organizations are very concerned that the new language threatens the availability of private insurance coverage for comprehensive reproductive health care services. We joined many of these organizations on Capitol Hill Wednesday morning to organize against this measure.
Cecile Richards, President of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, organized and led the meeting along with groups including the Feminist Majority, National Organization for Women, Naral Pro Choice America, Catholics for Choice, and the Young Women’s Christian Association along with numerous state level organizations and offices. The group discussed what the amendment does and why it is a dangerous precedent to set for women’s health rights.
Ms. Richards introduced Senator Stabenow, who was the featured speaker and one of the social workers in Congress. She referred to a video for which Senator Stabenow has become infamous. In the video Senator Kyl from Arizona discourages healthcare coverage for maternity care saying, “I don’t need maternity care.” Upon which Senator Stabenow retorts, “I bet your mother did.” She has been an outspoken advocate for women’s rights for a long time and has fought in the Senate Finance Committee to ensure equality and justice for everyone under a health care reform proposal.
Senator Stabenow further discussed the magnitude of this amendment and stated that health care reform legislation should expand health care, not decrease what is already available. She said, “We aren’t going to roll back the clock to limit options and services. We want coverage we need when we need it.” This amendment is designed to stop health care reform from being signed into law. Additionally, women have more to gain from health care reform as they pay more for insurance and receive less coverage. Senator Stabenow ended by saying, “Hang in there with us. I don’t pretend that it will be easy. I want you to go get em!”
The overall message of the meeting was that we want health care reform but not on the backs of women across the country. NASW will be participating in a lobby day on December 2 to oppose the Stupak-Pitts amendment.