A Good 24 Hours for Health Reform

December 04, 2009

Stop Stupak National Day of ActionAAUW staff and members were among the 1,200 people who descended on the corridors of Capitol Hill yesterday as part of the “Stop Stupak” coalition. Stupak, of course, refers to Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI), the Michigan congressman who inserted an amendment into the House-passed version of health reform legislation that would jeopardize women’s access to complete and safe reproductive health care coverage. The day’s events on Capitol Hill, which included meetings with congressional offices, briefings, and a rally attended by several members of Congress, were matched by various events taking place around the country as people took action in individual states. From Washington, DC, to the state of Washington, friends and allies united as one in our common cause to ensure that the Stupak amendment does not become law.

Wednesday’s turnout was tremendous. More than 100 lobby visits were scheduled by groups and individuals throughout the day, with more than 30 states, 17 college campuses, and a few dozen media outlets represented. It is no surprise that the Stupak amendment has generated such controversy. As AAUW members know, it represents the biggest attempt to effectively ban abortion services in years. While federal law currently bans the use of federal funds to cover abortion services, the Stupak amendment would force private insurance companies to eliminate abortion coverage for all members, instituting what amounts to a domestic gag rule.  Millions of women, including those in private plans, would lose the coverage they currently have.

AAUW’s position on reproductive rights, particular as it relates to the health reform legislation currently being debated, could not be clearer: we have long believed that politicians should not insert themselves into the decision-making process when it comes to reproductive health care, which is a basic element of women’s overall health care.

Speaking of women’s overall health care, AAUW and our allies got some good news earlier today, as the Senate passed an amendment sponsored by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD). The Women’s Health Amendment guarantees health insurance coverage for women’s preventive care and screenings in a host of different areas — while ensuring that women won’t have to pay additional premiums to cover the cost of these services. We signed a letter in support of this amendment, because coverage of preventive services for women is a key AAUW priority in health reform legislation.

In the span of a day, AAUW joined our pro-choice allies in a strong showing against the Stupak amendment, and the Women’s Health Amendment was adopted. Health care debate in the Senate has a long way to go, but the past 24 hours have been good for American women and their families.

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