Roe 2016 – A Challenging Landscape

CZNSE2DWQAEbjQDDear Friends and Community Members,

On Wednesday evening Pro-Choice Resources and Whole Woman’s Health (with support from our MN Choice Coalition Partners, Abortion Care Network, Preterm Abortion Clinic, and My Life My Abortion) honored the 43rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade with an event called Breaking Our Silence MN.  

Community members came together and read stories of people who have accessed abortion care (donated by Preterm Clinic), and some community members shared their own stories. These stories challenge the current narrative around abortion and push back against stigma, silence, and shame.  

The one theme that surfaced throughout the stories was that the person accessing abortion care made the decision that was best for themselves and their family.

We know the power of storytelling and as we recognize the 43rd anniversary of the landmark decision of Roe v. Wade, we also recognize that our current landscape is more challenging than ever. Since 2011, state legislators have passed 288 laws that restrict abortion access. We are also now in our 40th year of the Hyde Amendment, one of the most blatantly discriminatory amendments ever passed.  

The Hyde Amendment, first attached as a “rider” in 1976, banned the use of certain federal funds to pay for abortion unless the pregnancy arises from incest, rape, or to save the life of the mother. In particular, this bars people receiving federal Medicaid from using that form of insurance to access abortion care. Abortion is the only medical procedure that has ever been banned from Medicaid. The reason why the Hyde Amendment is discriminatory is due to its disproportionate impact on immigrant women and women of color who are more likely to live in poverty and to rely on Medicaid for their health care. Here’s what Representative Henry Hyde, author of the Hyde Amendment had to say, “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.”

CZNJuQWWwAEJS2gSo year after year the Hyde Amendment, and now these new restrictions and bans, have placed families in peril. Low-income families have to sell their belongings, put less food on the table and risk eviction as they use their rent money to pay for abortion care, a medical procedure which should be covered by insurance just like any other medical procedure. And we also know that many of these families never manage to get the money they need to pay for abortion care – which means that they are forced to carry the pregnancy to term.

For those of us that work, advocate and volunteer in this field we know all too well of the difficulties and erroneous barriers that women, girls and transgender people who can get pregnant face everyday.

This year in March the United States Supreme Court will hear Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole, a case regarding the deceptive Texas law HB2 which is designed to shut down more than 75 percent of all health clinics that provide abortion services in the state. HB2 would accomplish its goal of shutting down clinics by imposing these two restrictions:

  • Doctors who provide abortion services must obtain admitting privileges at local hospitals no farther than 30 miles away from the clinics.
  • Health care facilities offering abortion care must meet building specifications to essentially become mini-hospitals (also known as ambulatory surgical centers, or ASCs).

These requirements unfairly single out abortion care providers and do not apply to other, comparable medical procedures or practices.

Leading medical experts and organizations strongly oppose these medically unnecessary requirements on reproductive health care services. The American Medical Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and other leading health care experts are united in opposing these burdensome regulations, arguing that they serve no medical purpose, interfere in the doctor/patient relationship, and do nothing to promote reproductive health.

The Supreme Court’s decision on this historic case will have far reaching ramifications. We have seen similar bills introduced in Minnesota, but the MN Choice Coalition partners have been able to defeat them. However, this case could impact our ability to successfully defend access to abortion care in the future.

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Wow – a lot of depressing news…. But remember our movement is strong and bold and compassionate and we will not be intimidated.  This past July partners in the All* Above All Campaign, a national campaign to repeal the Hyde Amendment, introduced the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance Act (EACH Woman Act), a groundbreaking piece of legislation for Reproductive Justice. The EACH Woman Act:  

  • Sets up the federal government as a standard-bearer, meaning every woman who receives care or insurance through the federal government will have coverage for abortion services. The EACH Woman Act restores abortion coverage to those:
    • enrolled in a government health insurance plan (i.e., Medicaid, Medicare), including those who live 
in the District of Columbia;
    • enrolled in a government-managed health insurance program (i.e., FEHBP, TRICARE) due to an 
employment relationship;
    • receiving healthcare from a government provider or program (i.e., Indian Health Services, the 
Federal Bureau of Prisons, the Veterans Administration).
  • Prohibits political interference with decisions by private health insurance companies to offer coverage for abortion care. Federal, state and local legislators will not be able to interfere with the private insurance market, including the insurance marketplaces established by the Affordable Care Act, to prevent insurance companies from providing abortion coverage.

The partners in the MN Choice Coalition and many of our community partners and allies have signed onto this groundbreaking legislation. Here’s what we know to be true, we can’t do this work without you and it’s important that the policy makers who represent you hear from you. We encourage you to use the hashtag #‎ReclaimRoe‬‬ on social media, and to let the people in our state know that we care about upholding Roe v. Wade, keeping abortion care legal, and making abortion care accessible to all who need it.  But more importantly, let them know that we care about the thousands of women, girls and transgender people who can get pregnant whose human right it is to access abortion care.

 

In Peace and Justice,

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Karen Law

 

*statistics and quotes from the Center for Reproductive Rights, National Network of Abortion Funds, and All* Above All.

 

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