In the Wake of Health Reform, Abortion Under Attack
June 8, 2010
On Sunday, Racewire.org published the following poignant article by Michelle Chen on the disappointing state of the reproductive rights movement. In the article, Chen describes that in face of reproductive rights advocates' lingering hopes for progress after the disappointing outcome of health care reform, anti-abortion activists this year have launched a full assault at the state level. And as Ms. Chen demonstrates, the brunt of this assault will fall most heavily on poor women of color. Although health care reform will eventually expand women's access to health care, the reproductive health of the most vulnerable populations will be sacrificed. Read Michelle Chen's full article below.
About 370 state bills regulating abortion were introduced in 2010, compared with about 350 in each of the previous five years, and 250 a year in the early 1990s, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights. At least 24 of this year's bills have passed, and the final total may reach the high of 2005, when states passed 34 laws, said Elizabeth Nash, a public policy associate at the institute....The assault on abortion rights will be felt most acutely among poor women. On RH Reality Check, Pamela Merritt dissects the cruel psychological manipulation underlying Missouri's Abortion Restriction Bill:
The Abortion Restriction bill requires abortion clinics to post signs that promise state-backed assistance should a woman carry a child to term and assistance in caring for that child once born. These promised services include health care, housing, transportation, food, clothing, education, and job training. Given the fact that the Missouri legislature slashed funding to most of the programs that would have provided those services, those claims and promises aren't worth the poster-board they will be printed on.By tying the refusal of an abortion to social services, Missouri masks its punishment of poor women as a "reward" for keeping an unwanted pregnancy. Adding insult to injury, they've also betrayed the same promise by tearing apart the safety net that should be available to all women, regardless of how they choose to exercise their reproductive rights. Missouri is a microcosm for a slow-burning crisis in reproductive health that targets poor communities and communities of color, in which abortion has become more prevalent in recent years. According to Raising Women's Voices, while the federal subsidies and Medicaid expansions will broaden women's access to the mainstream health care system, the new benefits come at the expense of reproductive health for the most vulnerable:
- Women on Medicaid and those who will become eligible for Medicaid in 2014 will not be able to use their coverage for abortion services in most cases, except in the circumstances stated above, or if they live in one of the 17 states that use state-only dollars to provide abortion coverage under Medicaid.
- Low-income women receiving care at Community Health Centers still will not be able to receive federally-subsidized abortion services, making it more difficult for CHCs to provide this care.
- New funding for ineffective abstinence-only sex education. Title V, the federal abstinence-only-until-marriage program is resuscitated and given $50 million a year for five years.
Michelle Chen's work has appeared in AirAmerica, Women's International Perspective, Extra!, Colorlines and Alternet. She is a regular contributor to In These Times' workers' rights blog, Working In These Times. She also blogs at Racewire.org.