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Standing Up For Women’s Rights

November 18, 2009

by Leah Stern
MPP 2011
Harvard Kennedy School

For three years, I have worked in the community of women’s rights organizations in Washington, DC. I was totally committed; I was a part of the fight, and I worked to make sure women had access to health care every day. Then, just as I started working as a self-employed consultant (read: no health insurance) for the World Bank Institute, the health care debate really heated up, and I found myself contemplating the significance of the reform efforts in a whole new light. The new health care exchange would be for many kinds of people, and one of those kinds would be people like me: young people who don’t necessarily think we need health insurance until something goes wrong.

The Stupak-Pitts amendment that got attached to the House version of the bill is a particularly pernicious anti-choice measure that is directly aimed at people like me. If included in the final bill, it would mean that I wouldn’t be able to buy a plan on the exchange that included coverage for abortion, a crucial health service for women of reproductive age. It is especially unfortunate that this amendment was to such an important bill, which would extend crucial coverage to the millions of Americans without it.

Those of us who care about freedom and choice have decided that this is unacceptable. We will not permit the continued marginalization of abortion. Instead, we are standing up and insisting that reproductive health care is health care.  I am part of a group of graduate and undergraduate students at Harvard (I’m at the Kennedy School of Government) that organized a rally for the Harvard community to demand that our elected representatives fight for a strong, pro-women health care reform bill.

On Wednesday afternoon, more than 200 people gathered at the Harvard Square T stop to stand up for women’s reproductive health. Harvard undergrads stood shoulder-to-shoulder with grad students, community members, and longtime activists for women’s rights, including Institute of Politics fellows Gina Glantz and former NOW President Kim Gandy.

People in every corner of my new community are passionately working to make sure that we pass a health care reform bill that works for women. We expect our elected representatives to do the same.

Here’s what you can do:

Follow @stopstupaknow on Twitter for updates.

Join our Facebook group: Students Stop Stupak.

Check out our website for ongoing action.

Stay tuned for more action alerts and ideas, and in the meantime, please contact your elected representatives and tell them to stand up for health care for all.

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