As I’ve mentioned previously, it’s wonderful to see so many people riled up over choice. Many Oklahoma university women’s and gender studies departments and organizations are mobilizing effectively, as can be witnessed in previous posts. If this is what we see now, imagine what the response will be when the Oklahoma legislation is actually in session come February 1st.
Constant vigilance is key. We need to stay pumped, not just for our state, but for our country. While we in Oklahoma were rejoicing over the brief respite from HB1595 (mind you, it will be back), another piece of junky legislation was being tacked onto the U.S. House health care reform bill; the Stupak-Pitts amendment.
According to Laurie Rubiner, PPFA Vice President for Public Policy and Advocacy, the Stupak-Pitts amendment not only prohibits coverage of abortion in the public option, but also prohibits private insurers from providing abortion coverage in their subsidized plans. To offer abortion at all they would have to offer two plans—one subsidized with no abortion coverage, another unsubsidized with abortion coverage.
It is sincerely doubtful that they will actually bother to do this. I’m sure private insurers are already annoyed at the prospect of having to work with subsidies at all. Not to mention women don’t exactly plan for an unplanned pregnancy, so they might skip the abortion coverage in favor of the subsidy. What it all boils down to; despite the presence of health care reform, millions more women would be without abortion coverage than ever before. Despite being insured, more women would have to pay out of pocket if they needed an abortion. For a surgical abortion, the costs start at around $500.
There has been speculation that the amendment was tacked onto the bill by health care reform opposition in order to sink it. However, many representatives saw through this and voted it in anyway (despite great trepidation from some). So it stands, for the time being.
Now it’s the senate’s turn to draft a bill, and then the House and senate will merge the two by consensus and Obama will give the final version his signature. Now is the time to make sure that this amendment goes no further. Some representatives are confident that Stupak will not make it to the final vote. It is up to all of us to make sure that it will not.
So stay active people, in the state and the nation. If you don’t know who your representatives or senators are in Oklahoma, please follow the following links, look them up, and give them a call.
Oklahoma House of Representatives
Oklahoma State Senate