For me, one of the more frustrating aspects of organizing against the Stupak amendment has been comments I’ve heard – usually from younger, more affluent women – that they just didn’t think the Stupak amendment was that big a deal.
Surely it wasn’t enough to jeopardize the entire health care reform bill over. After all, why should the federal government be footing the bill to pay for someone else’s "poor judgment"?
If I had heard this sort of comment once or twice I could easily dismiss it, but I’ve heard it enough to give me pause, and from women I thought would, should know better. Maybe I’m naive, but it never occurred to me that otherwise well educated and socially liberal women would be so dismissive – thinking access to safe legal abortion will always be available to them because they can afford it, not a hard-won right they could eventually lose, regardless of their ability to pay.
Maybe they think this way because within their own circle of friends are women who’ve made "poor choices" and who’ve paid for abortions out of pocket. Emotionally it may have been wrenching, but financially they could handle it. They had the resources. They had a choice.
Which is the whole point. Stupak takes choice away from women who are economically vulnerable. And contrary to popular belief, it takes it away from poor women whose health may be in danger if they’re forced to carry out a full term pregnancy.
Feldman, a 41-year-old federal lawyer, and her husband had been trying for two years to have a baby. Sadly, her doctor "made it very clear I wasn’t to continue this pregnancy," she said.
An abortion was medically necessary. She had little choice.
But after the jolt of the diagnosis and the emotional pain of the procedure, Feldman was in for another shock — sticker shock. She thought her health insurance policy through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) would cover the $9,000 cost of the abortion. It didn’t.
For Feldman, unlike many women who have abortion insurance coverage through private-sector employers, abortion coverage provided through her employer — the U.S. government — is illegal. The law says that "no funds . . . shall be available to pay for an abortion" under FEHBP. Exceptions are made for pregnancies that are the result of rape or incest, or that endanger the mother’s……
Feldman’s case is instructive. Congress is considering a ban, like the one in federal employee health plans, against federal funding of abortions as part of the effort to reform the nation’s porous health insurance system. After hot debate last month, the House approved the Stupak-Pitts amendment, which would prohibit abortion coverage in government-subsidized health insurance, with exceptions for rape, incest and the mother’s health.
"But wait," you say," Stupak makes an exception for the health of the mother." Sure it does, if you’re health insurer agrees that your health really is in danger. Read on.
The doctor warned that the complications for a woman of Feldman’s maternal age from giving birth to a child with anencephaly "are especially serious . . . and could be life threatening."
Despite the doctor’s plea, the Office of Personnel Management refused to make Blue Cross/Blue Shield pay.
"The fetal anomaly presented no medical danger to you, the mother," OPM wrote to Feldman. "Consequently, we cannot direct the [insurance] Plan to provide benefits for the services in dispute."
Shocking, I know. An insurance company denying coverage. Who would have thought?
This woman was lucky. She had the leverage to negotiate her bill and the financial stability to pay off the balance. Poor women have neither.
This is why we ‘re phone banking. Not just to fight the Stupak amendment, but the mountain of mis-information hiding the cold, hard truth – that the real intent is to eliminate safe and legal abortion in this country, regardless of the ability to pay, or the risk to the mother’s health.
Stupak is death by a thousand paper cuts
We need your help. Will you volunteer to call pro-choice voters and explain truth about Stupak?
Join one of the phone bank efforts already going, or if there’s not one in your area, start one of your own!
SIGN UP FOR A PHONE BANK IN YOUR AREA!
"One Voice For Choice" has phone banks set up all over California, and two in Texas. Don’t see one in your area? Sign up to host your own! Please be sure to bring your cell phone and a charger.
Click on the names of the cities below to sign up!
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 5
San Francisco, CA
9AM – 2PM
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 6
Redondon Beach, CA
Santa Monica, CA
Noon – 5pm
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 12
Downtown Los Angeles, CA
Mar Vista, CA
Noon – 3pm
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 13
San Diego, CA
You can follow us:
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