Last week at the 17th Annual Chicago Power of Choice Luncheon hosted by NARAL, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius gave an impassioned speech about the Republican assault on women’s reproductive health. She pointed out that at both the state and federal levels, they are trying undo progress made for women under the Affordable Care Act and they are also pushing against rights women have won over the past 50 years. This includes not just abortion rights, but also the right to access birth control.
She brought attention to Republican attacks on the Department of Health and Human Services decision to require insurance plans to cover birth control with no co-pay as well as near incessant attempts to limit abortion access. According to the AP she also said “women have suffered discrimination by insurance companies that considered ‘Viagra an essential medication and birth control a lifestyle choice.’”
She also pointed out that the decision to require no co-pay coverage of birth control will actually help to reduce the number of abortions by making birth control access more affordable thus reducing the amount of unintended pregnancies. “Forty percent of unplanned pregnancies end in those women seeking abortions… Wouldn’t you think that people who want to reduce the number of abortions would champion the cause of widely available, widely affordable contraceptive services? Not so much.”
Voters in Mississippi will be voting on the ridiculous personhood amendment next month and legislators in Ohio are seriously considering a “heartbeat ban” which would ban all abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected. New legislations gets presented everyday that continues to erode women’s ability to access affordable and reliable reproductive healthcare, so Secretary Sebelius’s speech could not have come at a better time.
Many Democratic supporters have begun to wonder about the party’s silence on this issue and Sebelius’s speech has brought about renewed confidence that Democratic leaders are in fact concerned about this onslaught and are willing to stand up against it.