Walling off women's abortion access: Stupak lays the next brick
November 13, 2009
The following statement was issued by Stephanie Poggi, executive director of the National Network of Abortion Funds:
The Stupak/Pitts Amendment is the most far-reaching attack on abortion access in a generation. It endangers the health and well-being of millions of women by eliminating abortion coverage from the new insurance exchange.
Thirty-two years ago, the Right began walling off abortion access with the Hyde Amendment, which banned federal Medicaid coverage for abortion. Three decades have passed – three decades of poor women scrimping on food and other necessities to pay for their abortions.
Now, the Stupak Amendment builds the next layer of bricks on the wall that stands between women and the promise of Roe v. Wade.
Representative Henry Hyde – and the Catholic bishops who were as pivotal then as now – never intended to prevent only poor women from getting abortions. Representative Hyde made this clear 32 years ago during the Congressional debate on the Hyde Amendment: “I would certainly like to prevent, if I could legally, anybody having an abortion, a rich woman, a middle class woman, or a poor woman. Unfortunately, the only vehicle available is the [Medicaid] bill.”
Today, the anti-abortion movement wants to use health care reform to finish what Henry Hyde started. With the Stupak Amendment, millions of additional women stand to lose their right to make the best decision for themselves and their families.
We oppose Stupak because it would clearly worsen the status quo – but let’s not forget that the status quo is indefensible. The status quo on abortion access has discriminated against poor women and women of color for a long time. Moreover, the so-called “abortion-neutral” Capps Amendment is an enormous compromise itself. By preserving federal funding restrictions on abortion, Capps does nothing to redress three decades of interference with the reproductive choices of low-income women.
The National Network of Abortion Funds and member abortion Funds have spent decades assisting the women who have already been walled off from abortion access by the Hyde Amendment. We know the hardship and sacrifice – and the bitter frustration when women and families are denied the ability to care for the children they already have. We will work with our member Funds and allies across the country to make sure that health care reform does not add one more woman to the thousands who are already denied what they need. And we will continue to work toward a new status quo that respects our sisters, our mothers, our daughters, our neighbors – and ourselves.
We call on our Senators and the White House to remember that health care reform was meant to be for all of us. Women, as well as men. We also call on our Senators and the White House to ensure that health care covers all people living in the United States. Immigrants, both documented and undocumented, must have the right to be healthy and to gain access to comprehensive care. And health care in the new plan must be truly affordable, including a strong public option.
Speakers available for comment.