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December 29, 2008

Take Action: Write to the Obama-Biden Transition Team

With the new Administration, we have an opportunity to have input into the national health care agenda; we need your help to do this. . We are asking you to tell the Obama-Biden Transition team that health care must include comprehensive care for all pregnant women – whether they are seeking to end a pregnancy or hoping to go to term.

NAPW is very proud that as a result of our cross movement building and collaborations, major organizations, including the Center for American Progress, a coalition of pro-choice organizations and the National Organization for Women (NOW) have all submitted reproductive health agendas to the new Administration that include proposals not only to protect the right to choose abortion and to use and understand the value of contraceptive services, but also to advance the health and rights of women going to term.

For a long time, I believed that the abortion issue would continue to be used successfully as a brilliant diversion to divide and distract – particularly in the area of national or universal health care. It seemed that just raising the issue of including abortion in a new health care plan could potentially scuttle the whole thing. Today, though, I think we can move beyond that – from claims of supporting a culture of life, to a health care plan that actually supports and provides care for all the women who give that life.

It is not possible to segregate parts of women's experiences--providing health care for some aspects of women's reproductive lives and abandoning support for them in other contexts--without denying the actual experiences of women. The anti-abortion movement has created the myth that there are two kinds of women – women who have abortions and "kill" their babies, and women who give birth and become mothers. The reality, as Rachel Atkins first noted, is that they are all the same women, just at different points in their lives. And, because women who profoundly oppose abortion sometimes find that they need them or find that their decisions to go to term and have a vaginal birth are affected by anti-abortion/fetal rights policies, an attempt to categorize and exclude some women from health care coverage just doesn't make sense.

That is why we are asking you to tell the Obama-Biden Transition team that we need a health care plan that reflects the reality of women's lives. This means that health care coverage include maternity care and ensure reproductive justice for all women.

Here is how to do it: The Obama-Biden Transition team is calling on citizens to participate in discussions of health care reform in their homes, community centers, etc. between December 15-31. To "lead a discussion" go to http://change.gov/page/s/hcdiscussion and fill out the form. The transition team wants people to develop and share ideas about how to fix the health care system. And as many of you know a lot needs to be fixed, including:

* the system's exclusion of coverage for most abortion services,

* the lack of coverage for midwifery care and birthing centers,

* practices that fail to support women who experience miscarriages and stillbirths,

* the lack of access for pregnant women, their families and friends to appropriate drug treatment and mental health services,

* practices that encourages costly and unnecessary cesarean surgeries.

Each host will be sent a moderator guide. After the meeting, the host reports back. Someone in the transition team will prepare a report based on the feedback and that report will be given to the new President. You can also send your ideas directly through a form which asks "Tell us your story, why health care is important to you, or what you'd like to see an Obama-Biden administration do and where you'd like the country to go." http://change.gov/page/s/healthcare.

Another part of the website concerned with "social innovation and civic engagement" asks the public to post their answers to the following question: What social causes and service organizations are you a part of that make a difference in your community? http://change.gov/page/content/discussservice

We hope you will take the opportunity to participate in these efforts and carry the message of care and inclusion for all pregnant women.

And if you haven't yet given to NAPW to support all of our cross-issue, movement building efforts, please make a contribution today!

Best Wishes for the Holiday Season,

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