Bowl a Strike for Reproductive Freedom

By David Anderson 

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Everybody knows abortion became legal for all women with the “Roe v. Wade” Supreme Court decision in 1973. Fewer people know that in 1976, poor women lost that fundamental right to determine whether or when to have children. That is the year that the Hyde Amendment (named after Illinois Republican congressman Henry Hyde) was passed, which barred the use of certain federal funds to pay for abortions. It ended the provision of abortions for poor women through Medicaid, the federal health insurance program for low-income Americans. The amendment inspired the passage of other similar provisions applying to a number of other federal health care programs (for government employees, U.S. military personnel and their families, Peace Corps volunteers, Indian Health Service clients and federal prisoners).

It is not a permanent law but a “rider” that, in various forms, has been routinely attached to annual appropriations bills since 1976. President Clinton got an exception for rape and incest into the amendment in the 1990s.

President Obama has chosen to include the abortion coverage restrictions in his 2015 budget proposal. Earlier, he had agreed to extend the Hyde Amendment to the Affordable Care Act in order to secure conservative Democratic votes to pass Obamacare.

Jill Filipovic, writing in Britain’s Guardian, notes that these days, ”outside of the civil liberties organizations and women’s advocacy groups that are still pointing out the harms wrought by Hyde, there’s little mainstream political will to seriously challenge the law, even within the Democratic party. That Democrats so easily backed down on the Hyde amendment is a real shame, because that cowardice handed the GOP an effective road map for denying healthcare coverage for people or procedures they dislike.”

This is disturbing, since the Hyde Amendment has screwed up the lives of many poor women. Fortunately, activists in many communities around the country have intervened to create funds to pay for an abortion and for travel to a clinic or for an overnight stay in a motel near a clinic (for women who have to travel a great distance). Some activists provide a place to stay in their own homes.

For 20 years, these funds were largely isolated from each other. In 1993, 50 abortion fund activists from 22 funds in 14 different states came together to found the National Network of Abortion Funds (NNAF). The group also works to repeal the Hyde Amendment and similar laws on the national and state level. Today, the group represents 100 funds in the United States as well as Mexico, Canada and the United Kingdom. Some abortion funds have dozens of volunteers and some paid staff, while others are just run by one or two people.

This is crucial work because hundreds of thousands of women can’t come up with the money for the procedure. Abortions cost an average of $451 in the first trimester and can sometimes cost up to $3,000.

The National NNAF has a unique form of fund raising—a “National Abortion Access Bowl-a-Thon” held for many years throughout the month of April in dozens of cities. Participants sometimes dress up in weird outfits with team names like the “Ovary-chievers,” “At Your Cervix,” “Lara Croft’s Womb Raiders” and Texas’ “Puck Ferrys.” This whimsical attitude is refreshing because it challenges the slut-shaming stigma surrounding abortion.

This is a dangerous time for abortion rights. Since the major Republican gains in the 2010 elections, the Guttmacher Institute reports that there have been more than 200 anti-abortion measures passed in 30 states over the last three years.

The November elections are crucial. Will access to abortion be dramatically inhibited or will there be a pushback? It is time to demand that reproductive healthcare is a right, no matter how much money you make.

Join us on a DSA or YDS Bowlathon team, or organize your own: http://www.dsausa.org/bowl2014


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Dave Anderson is a member of Colorado DSA.

 

 

Individually signed posts do not necessarily reflect the views of DSA as an organization or its leadership.

DSA Immigration Rights Rapid Response: #AbolishICE

June 21, 2018

Thursday, June 21st at 8:30pm ET/7:30pm CT/6:30pm MT/5:30pm PT

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The Trump administration’s policy of separating families seeking asylum is only the latest in a escalation of anti-immigrant policies. We need to #AbolishICE now. Join us for an emergency call with the national DSA Immigrant Rights committee and our allies to discuss our strategy.

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New Member Call, June 24

June 24, 2018

9pm ET/8 CT/7 MT/6 PT

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You've joined DSA - Great! Now register for this New Member Orientation call and find out more about our politics and our vision. And, most importantly, how you can become involved.

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**Note: this page originally had the wrong date listed. The Correct date is Sunday the 24th**

M4A Chapter Activist Training Call: How to Pass a Medicare for All City Council Resolution

June 30, 2018

Saturday June 30th at 4pm ET/3pm CT/2pm MT/1pm PST

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In March, Philadelphia DSA members showed up in droves with healthcare workers, community members, and elected leaders to pass a Philadelphia city-wide resolution supporting the Medicare for All Act of 2017 and affirming universal access to healthcare as a human right. This victory showed that in a city where the poverty rate is over 26%, city council leaders learned where to stand when it comes to universal healthcare. To move a national campaign to win Medicare for All, we need to build support from a broad range of cities and municipalities across the country. With some research, planning, and lobbying, you could work with city council members to pass a resolution of support in your city too!

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