When President Barack Obama was elected in 2008, I certainly didn’t think that his administration and a Democratic majority in Congress would move us backwards when it came to women’s reproductive health.
But over and over again, the White House has failed to counter conservative initiatives that leave women without comprehensive health care, especially when dealing with choice issues.
First, the White House gave in to Congressman Bart Stupak during the debate of health care reform and issued an executive order reinforcing the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funds going toward abortion services. Then, in a surprise move, the White House eliminated abortion coverage for women in high-risk pools, even if they paid for this service with their own money. This was an anti-choice action that went beyond even the Stupak amendment.
In all of these instances, President Obama and his administration listened to anti-woman groups and ignored pro-woman and pro-choice voices when making decisions about women’s health.
The latest blow for women’s reproductive health care was as unexpected as his previous actions. Health care reform paved the way for making birth control free for most women as long as it’s designated as “preventive care” for women. But the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) refused to take that route, continuing the struggle for many women to pay for birth control that they desperately need.
However, it looks like HHS is looking to reverse that decision– and they’re holding meetings to determine whether birth control should be designated preventive care for women, and therefore free under the new health care laws.
Yet again, it appears that the Catholic Bishops and other anti-woman groups are the ones shaping these discussions. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops testified formally during the first meeting of the panel to determine what will be classified as preventive care for women. Why are Bishops weighing what does or doesn’t qualify as preventative health care for women?
I know that I, for one, am fed up with the Administration’s decision to always include these anti-choice representatives in their decisionmaking process. The Catholic Bishops aren’t medical experts. They aren’t women. And they don’t even really represent the thoughts and values of many Catholics on women’s issues.
CREDO Action circulated a petition for people that are also tired of the Administration listening to these anti-woman opinions when making policy decisions that directly affect women.
If you want to tell the Administration and Department of Health and Human Services to, for once, listen to women, and not the Catholic Bishops, sign the petition telling them to mandate free access to birth control.You can sign the petition here.
We’ve got to come up with a way to make sure that people who represent the *real* interests of women are included in policymaking discussions and women’s rights aren’t constantly compromised away.
Have an idea for how we can do that? Tell us in the comments.
Full disclosure: I happily work at CREDO Action and I’m constantly angry at people who take away women’s rights.