Today is January 22nd, 2009, which means it’s the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade and Blog for Choice Day!
This year, we’re all being asked to answer to this question: What is your top pro-choice hope for President Obama and/or the new Congress?
After thinking about this year’s theme, we’d say that our top pro-choice hope is that we can render this question obsolete within a few years. After eight years of being beaten down by the ignorant, sexist, anti-choice Bush administration, it’s understandable that the concept of "pro-choice hope" feels pretty foreign and also kinda awesome right now. But in addition to being pro-choice hopeful, we should also be pro-choice unsatisfied and pro-choice determined and pro-choice loud so that we can make real progress quickly. We’ve got a moment here where we can take a breath and not feel like we have to spend all of our time being on the defensive constantly, so let’s take full advantage of it.
Here’s our top 10, with lots of links. We want it all.
- Overturn the Global Gag Rule immediately. This is the ultimate "pro-life isn’t" policy, hurting women and families and denying critical health care to people around the world under the guise of "respecting life". We were hoping that President Obama would have done this already so that we could start off the list with one item already crossed off, but it does still seem that he plans to do it very soon, and if he doesn’t he should hear from all of us until it happens.
We also hope he listens to the recommendations in this new report : "Five former directors of the Population and Reproductive Health Program of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) today urged the new Obama administration to move quickly to restore U.S. leadership in global family planning.
The former directors issued a joint report, Making the Case for U.S. International Family Planning Assistance , as Barack Obama takes office as president. The report argues that U.S. investment in family planning assistance programs overseas must more than double as soon as possible if global anti-poverty and development goals are to be achieved amidst the worldwide economic downturn."
- End all federal funding for abstinence only sex education programs that have been repeatedly proven totally ineffective . Pass the Prevention First Act as soon as possible . "The Act aims to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies by increasing funding for Title X, expanding Medicaid family planning services, ending insurance discrimination against women, improving awareness of emergency contraception, providing compassionate assistance for victims of rape, reducing teen pregnancy rates, and ensuring that Federal programs provide medically accurate information."
- Pass the Freedom of Choice Act – "a measure that will codify Roe v. Wade and guarantee the right to choose for future generations of women".
- Take action immediately to reverse former President Bush’s (wow, that’s fun to type) horrible last minute HHS "conscience" regulations . It’s not going to be as easy as signing an executive order, so the process needs to begin right away. Several states have already filed suit against the rules , which could help. [Update on this one - it looks like this rule may be subject to President Obama's executive order freezing all of Bush's midnight regulations, which would be really good news .]
- Eliminate federal funding for so-called crisis pregnancy centers that really just exist to mislead , manipulate , and shame pregnant women .
- Repeal the Hyde Amendment and ensure access to reproductive health services , including abortion, for low-income women, women serving in our military and the families of military personnel, women serving in the Peace Corps, women in federal prisons, women receiving health care from Indian Health Service, and women on disability insurance. (Also, lift all Department of Defense restrictions on abortion access for women in our military.)
- Appoint judges who respect a woman’s right to choose.
- Restore affordable birth control for college students and low-income women by passing the Prevention Through Affordable Access Act . The act was just reintroduced by Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY). "Since 2006, prices for birth control have skyrocketed as high as $50/month at clinics and college health centers as a consequence of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 . This act included a little-noticed provision that prohibited the decades-old practice of pharmaceutical companies selling contraceptives to college clinics and clinics serving low-income women at deeply discounted rates.
Crowley commented in a statement : ‘A bureaucratic mistake should not stand in the way of protecting the health and safety of millions of women across the nation,’ he said. ‘At no-cost to the American taxpayer, this simple legislative fix will restore affordable access to safe, effective birth control – reducing unplanned pregnancies and eliminating a considerable financial burden on millions of college-age and low-income women. I am proud to reintroduce this bipartisan legislation with my colleagues Reps. Kirk, Ryan, Dent, and Schiff, and I am confident we will address this issue in the 111th Congress.’"
- Allow federal employees enrolled in the Federal Employees Health Benefits program to choose insurance policies that cover abortion.
- Understanding that we’ve got to act locally too, we also hope to see the Reproductive Health Act passed so that the right to choose is strengthened here in New York.
- Bonus item! President Obama released this statement today . Let’s hold him accountable to these words for the next four years.
On the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we are reminded that this decision not only protects women’s health and reproductive freedom, but stands for a broader principle: that government should not intrude on our most private family matters. I remain committed to protecting a woman’s right to choose.
While this is a sensitive and often divisive issue, no matter what our views, we are united in our determination to prevent unintended pregnancies, reduce the need for abortion, and support women and families in the choices they make. To accomplish these goals, we must work to find common ground to expand access to affordable contraception, accurate health information, and preventative services.
On this anniversary, we must also recommit ourselves more broadly to ensuring that our daughters have the same rights and opportunities as our sons: the chance to attain a world-class education; to have fulfilling careers in any industry; to be treated fairly and paid equally for their work; and to have no limits on their dreams. That is what I want for women everywhere.
For more information on the work that needs to be done now, check out Advancing Reproductive Rights and Health in a New Administration , a report put together by a "coalition of medical, public health, research, religious and religiously-affiliated, women’s health, legal, and other advocacy organizations". Get informed and then get up and get involved. It’s our job now to make sure that all of this hope becomes lasting change.
[Cross-posted from Evil Slutopia ]