Think the Stupak Amendment Stinks? Tell Congress What You Think

Do you want to see real health-care reform? Do you support women’s access to a full range of health benefits? Then join Planned Parenthood in their National Day of Action to lobby the Senate for health-care reform that ensures women’s access to reproductive health.

Under the Stupak amendment to the House health-care reform bill, millions of women would lose health benefits that they currently have — and millions more would be barred from getting the kind of private-sector coverage that most women have today. At its essence, the Stupak amendment violates the underlying principle of health-care reform as articulated by President Obama: that no one will lose the benefits they currently have.

The Exchange
The new health-insurance exchange is intended to provide a new source of affordable, quality coverage for the roughly 46 million uninsured Americans and the millions more whose current coverage is unaffordable or inadequate. The House bill would cover 96 percent of all uninsured Americans by offering subsidies for private coverage or the choice of a public plan. Depending on their income level and the final package approved by Congress, individuals would receive subsidies on a sliding scale to purchase private insurance through the exchange.

Most immediately, the exchange would offer coverage to many of the 17 million women, ages 18–64, who are uninsured. It would also be a source of coverage for the 5.7 million women who are now purchasing coverage in the individual market.

Sounds pretty good, right? Well, the Stupak amendment — named for Rep. Stupak, who tacked the amendment on to the House’s health-reform bill at the last minute — prohibits any coverage of abortion in the public option, and it prohibits anyone who receives a federal subsidy from purchasing a plan that includes abortion. It purports to allow women (gee, thanks) to purchase a separate, single-service “abortion rider,” but guess what? Abortion riders don’t exist. The bottom line is, women’s access to private coverage for abortion would be severely restricted by health-care reform.

The Stupak amendment would effectively ban abortion coverage across the entire health-insurance exchange. In case anyone has forgotten, abortion is legal. It is also one of the most common medical procedures performed in the United States each year.

The Bright Side
We still have a chance to make sure women do not become second-class citizens in a newly reformed health-care system. The Senate is still debating its version of a health-care reform bill — and the Stupak amendment does not have to be part of the final legislation. The Senate bill introduced by Senate Majority Leader Reid does not include language similar to the Stupak ban (phew). But we need the Senate’s strong support to defeat any and all amendments to the Senate bill that would impose additional restrictions on women’s access to reproductive health care.

Health-care reform is a huge, momentous occasion in U.S. health policy. We won’t get a chance like this again for a long time, so we have to act now.

Planned Parenthood offers lots of ways for you to get involved and make your voice heard. Check out their links for more info, and be sure to tell Congress that you will not accept health-care reform that leaves millions of women worse off than before.