Monthly Archives: September 2014

Hyde Amendment – Unhappy Anniversary!

For 38 years, the Hyde Amendment has resulted in health coverage being denied for people using Medicaid benefits when they need abortion care.  Proud of the work I do to help support people in speaking out about discriminatory policies designed to make care harder to get and more expensive!

Here are some great pieces I was honored to help get out there:

“People cannot truly make the best decision for their lives and families if they are denied access to the health care that they need. That is why people of faith should speak out about discriminatory and harmful policies like the Hyde Amendment, which targets low-income people who utilize federal health programs for health coverage by withholding coverage for abortion care.”

“People should have access to safe reproductive health care, regardless of their income or health insurance coverage. Now more than ever we need to repeal Hyde and other policies like it that make abortion care, and other reproductive and sexual health programs, less accessible for the people who need it most.”

“I believe that a woman, no matter what her economic circumstances, should have access to safe and dignified reproductive health care. I believe that a woman facing an unintended pregnancy is best suited to make decisions for herself and her family, without political interference. I believe that God gives each of us, in consultation with our faith and with those who matter most to us, the ability to determine our capacity for parenting, caring for others in our families, and serving our communities.”

“Abortion stigma leads to myths and stereotypes in the media, to the marginalization of abortion care in healthcare institutions, to negative attitudes about abortion in communities and to silence, shame and isolation among people who need or have used abortion services. Given the stigmatizing environment around abortion, it is not surprising that it creeps into the legislative arena.”

hyde, repeal


What the Affordable Care Act “Hydes”

The first woman to die of an unsafe illegal abortion after Roe v. Wade was a Latina, Rosie Jimenez, who couldn’t afford an abortion and couldn’t get coverage from Medicaid because of the Hyde Amendment.

Tuesday, September 30th marks the 38th anniversary of the Hyde Amendment, which denies abortion coverage for people who use Medicaid benefits. This policy has a disparate impact on those who already struggle accessing high quality health care – low-income women, women of color, young women and immigrant women.

I wrote about this in August of 2012 – “What the Affordable Care Act Hydes”.

US Representative Henry Hyde, R-IL, Chairman of th

United We Stand Requires Actions, Not Just Words

It was not the first time I saw an explosion live on television.  Like many American kids my age, I remembered sitting in my classroom watching the Challenger take off and not understanding what had happened or why my teacher was crying.  But I was so young.  This time I knew what I was seeing even if I could hardly believe it.

I was directing a PIRGIM canvass office in Ann Arbor that fall.  I was running late to work that day. Usually, I would have been at my desk drinking my coffee and finalizing our plan for the day before the trainers and new canvassers arrived.  I got on the elevator and a woman from another floor said something about New York. I didn’t understand what she was talking about. I got into my office and turned on the radio.  I heard them talking about the World Trade Center and an explosion.  We didn’t know what was happening.

At some point someone turned on a television and there it was, the image that so many of us have burned into our memories of the first tower and a plane – something that would have seemed like a shot from a bad action film on any other day.

I had moved to Michigan for the job.  With little time to find a place and a demanding schedule, I had an apartment I barely slept in and a roommate I did not really know.  I found myself at my assistant director, Chris’ house.  We had closed the office and called the staff.  Many of them were far from home, too.  We ended up together in a sort of vigil where we could not help but continue to stare at the television hungry for information afraid to watch and yet afraid to look away

It is strange that I can remember exactly what I was wearing and the people in the room.  I have lost touch with most of them.  I don’t remember all of their names and yet their faces, their tears and their looks of confusion and fear I will likely never forget.

I also remember that there was this feeling that we were coming together as a country.  The horrific images on the television were undeniable, but so were the pictures and stories of people who had put themselves at risk to help a friend, a colleague or a complete stranger get out.  There were the first responders who had rushed in to a burning building to save people and who were there days after continuing to help everyone that they could.

There was a lot of flag waving and “united we stand.”  We said we would never forget and yet it seems like we have. We honor the fallen and the lost each year.  We tell the stories and shed a tear.  But where is the unity?  Where is the sense that we can and must be there for each other?  That we can and must be a country that does right by each other?  I can’t ignore on this or any day that we are not living up to the ideals that we spoke of and we are not united.

I have always felt uncomfortable with the sort of patriotism that says we should wear our red, white and blue but not question what is happening in our country or the actions of our leaders.  Flag waving is not patriotism.  Questioning and demanding that we live up to our values – that is patriotism. And that is what we must do.

We can and should take today to remember those who were lost.  But we also can, should and must have real conversations about the fact that we can do better to truly be the “land of the free”.   Simply saying we are a place of equal opportunity does not make it so.  If we want to say “united we stand” then let’s do something about it.

United-We-Stand-Sticker-Decal This piece also ran on Huffington Post: Politics on September 11th, 2014. 

The Cost of Violence

As a Ravens fan, a woman and a parent to two daughters, I have been following the beating of Janay Palmer and the response.  I can’t help but notice that in the end Ray Rice’s firing was more about public relations than it was about justice.  And the conversation surrounding this saga made it clear that the life and dignity of Janay was on too few people’s list of things to consider.    

I saw the usual victim blaming of people asking how she could marry him.  I was pleased to see a powerful and haunting response on Twitter with #whyistayed and #whyileft schooling folks about domestic violence.  But the other thing that really stood out for me was a calculation that seemed to be happening – one that left women falling short.  

As the horrific video came to light yesterday more and more people called for accountability and punishment beyond a pathetic two game suspension.  There was discussion about whether the Ravens could afford the salary loss and what was enough punishment.   

Right, so the message here is that women should be willing to forget so the Ravens can improve their current record. I realize that football is a business, but it is bad business to tell women – who make up 50% of sports attendance – that our safety is not as important as winning games.  I guess having more choices in fan apparel than just pink and sparkly was supposed to be enough.

How are women supposed to feel when our safety and respect for our lives is calculated in dollars and cents and often deemed to not be worth the cost?

We can feign surprise at what happened here in Baltimore or we can open our eyes and see it as part of a pervasive problem with violence – in professional sports and beyond.  If we don’t take the opportunity to talk about what real change looks like – social, policy and cultural change – it will continue to cost many women and their families their health, their safety and for far too many their lives. 

So if we want to talk cost – let’s talk about the cost to the life of each woman who survives violence and then has to figure out how to move forward in a society where justice is scarce and judgment is plentiful.