Late Saturday night, the House of Representatives voted on the historic healthcare reform legislation that has been heavily debated for the past few months. After long summer months where our legislators went back to their home districts to listen to their constituents talk about their healthcare concerns and where heavy lobbying by supporters and opponents occurred, the House finally voted. 220-215 to pass their version of the Healthcare reform legislation. There was one lone Republican, Anh Joseph Cao from the State of Louisiana who joined the majority of Democrats to vote for the legislation. At least he voted for his conscience and his constituents who continue to suffer from the effects of Hurricane Katrina and lack major medical health coverage. We're proud to see that he's a first term multicultural senator who's standing up for his people.
However, before the celebration can begin, let's make note of a very important and troubling issue that occurred in the process. The issue of women's healthcare and reproductive rights including abortions was dealt a severe blow and a giant step backwards. There was wording put into the legislation that includes a ban on private abortion coverage for millions of women and prohibits it in the newly proposed public option. In other words, while abortion is still legal, the means to cover the costs of abortions for women who request it will be denied through their private and government insurance programs. We know that the proponents of the healthcare reform legislation includes many pro-women's reproductive rights elected legislators and that they felt they had to permit this to happen in order to gain the passage of the overall healthcare reform. However, we cannot let them and opponents of women's reproductive rights to feel emboldened or "off the hook" for defending our rights.
As women and especially women of multicultural communities who often rely on government assistance to pay for services, we need to have access to reproductive health support and abortion services. Too often, multicultural i.e. minority women face extreme economic, educational and physical hardships coming from communities where women's health and welfare is tramped upon. Women can be physically and sexually abused and fear reporting the abuse to authorities. To take away the option to have abortions by virtually eliminating the ability to receive those paid services, we're further exposing this large and expanding population to more economic, physical and emotional duress.
We all need to focus our collective signatures on petitions, rallies, and call our legislators to demand support for women's reproductive rights and to ensure that the final healthcare reform legislation that is placed upon President Obama's desk contains support for all women to have the right to choose and make their decisions about their reproductive rights. We will be writing and joining in with other national organizations to rally our troops, activate women and men who believe in our right to choose and make sure that Washington DC and the Beltway hears our voices and sees how we will vote in the 2010 elections to support those legislators that support our critical issues.