Women’s health, D.C groups, and faith leaders launch “We are DC” campaign
Women’s health advocates, local groups, and faith leaders have joined to launch a new campaign, “We Are DC,” to raise the voices of people from across the country in support of reproductive decision making for the residents of the District of Columbia (D.C.), no matter how much money they make. While all 50 states may use their state funds to cover abortion services, D.C.’s decision is overseen by Congress through the appropriations process.
Congress routinely undermines D.C.’s own elected officials and withholds funds to cover the cost of abortion for women in the District.
The “We Are DC” campaign will be collecting photo testimonials from across the country and sharing them with members of Congress to demonstrate the broad national opposition to playing political games during heated budget fights by holding this critical health coverage for D.C. women hostage.
“With high proportions of young people and low-income families in Washington D.C., it is of vital importance that residents here are able to make their own personal health decisions regardless of their income,” said Kierra Johnson, Choice USA executive director. “The photos coming in from across the country demonstrate widespread support for this value – that when it comes to the most important decisions in life, such as whether to become a parent, people everywhere should be able to consider all the options available without political interference.”
“When D.C. briefly had Medicaid funds available for abortion coverage in 2011, we saw the tremendous difference it made for women and their families. And we saw how brutal it was when it was stripped away again by politicians in Congress,” said Val Vilott, board president of the D.C. Abortion Fund. “A woman’s ability to make health care decisions – including ending a pregnancy – should not depend on how rich or poor you are, or where you live.”
“The ‘We are DC’ campaign aims to display to Congress that Americans across the country believe D.C. residents deserve equality and full autonomy,” said D.C. Vote Executive Director, Kimberly Perry. “We must remind members of Congress that the D.C. Home Rule Act was passed specifically to relieve Congress of having to legislate on local D.C. issues. Now is the time for members of Congress to discontinue efforts that undermine local democracy and instead focus on policy solutions that will advance democracy and allow full equality for D.C. residents.”
“Congress’ ban on abortion coverage through the D.C. Medicaid program disproportionately affects women of color—in fact, 94 percent of the people whose access to abortion care is restricted by the local-funds ban are people of color,” said Jessica González-Rojas, executive director of National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health. “However we feel about abortion, politicians shouldn’t be allowed to deny a woman’s health coverage just because of how much she makes or where she lives.”
“Our religious values call us to support public policies that show compassion, support, and respect for those in need—not judgment and political interference,” said Rev. Harry Knox, President & CEO of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. “We believe that it is immoral for a federal law to single out a group of people in the District of Columbia for the sole purpose of taking away healthcare.”
Federal lawmakers currently deny coverage of abortion in the annual federal budget laws. These bans withhold coverage for the cost of abortion for women who get their health coverage through the US government, including Medicaid-eligible women and Medicare beneficiaries; Federal employees and their dependents; Peace Corps volunteers; Native American women; women in federal prisons and detention centers, including those detained for immigration purposes; and low-income women in the District of Columbia.
Beginning in 1988, some members of Congress began using their oversight power to overrule District of Columbia lawmakers’ coverage of abortion through its Medicaid program. While at times over the past twenty-four years this intrusive restriction has been lifted, at present the policy denies D.C. the ability cover abortion in its Medicaid program.
Restrictions on insurance coverage for abortion harm the health and well being of women nationwide, their families, and communities. More than one in five women of reproductive age in the District of Columbia are insured through the Medicaid program, and more than 90 percent of the District’s non-elderly Medicaid enrollees are people of color, including Black women and Latinas.
“We Are DC” home page: http://we-are-dc.tumblr.com/
Advocates for Youth
Black Women’s Health Imperative
Center for Reproductive Rights
DC Abortion Fund
National Women’s Law Center
National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health
Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
Reproductive Health Technologies Project