In the Dog Days of Summer, Obama Delivers a Death Blow to Vulnerable Women

Rebecca Sive

In the dog days of summer, the Obama Administration issues regulations with possibly deadly consequences for women facing high-risk pregnancies.

It’s a classic Friday political number: Release bad news in the hopes that no-one is paying attention.

So, last Friday, the last possible Friday in July no less, the Friday two days before the “dog days of August,” what was the news?

Well, the news is that the President has directed his Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, to issue a regulation for healthcare reform’s high-risk insurance pools, a regulation deathly to American women.

Here’s Cecile Richards, CEO of Planned Parenthood, responding to the President’s decision:

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So who does this regulation affect? The high-risk insurance
pools are being created for some of the most medically
vulnerable women in the country — those with pre-existing
conditions such as breast and ovarian cancer, AIDS, diabetes
and other conditions that may make pregnancy extraordinarily
dangerous.

The HHS regulations mean that women won’t be allowed to obtain
abortion coverage through the new high-risk insurance pools
beyond limited cases (rape, incest, endangering the life of the
woman). They won’t even be given the option to pay for that
coverage with their own money. We can’t let this decision stand.

The final health care reform bill included extensive
restrictions on using federal funds to pay for abortion
coverage, but this new ban goes beyond what it is in the law.
Quite simply, HHS has chosen to place a new burden on women who
are ill and extremely vulnerable, women who may need to seek
abortion coverage.

What in the world was going on this July Friday, when I, for one, had hoped to only be thinking about what Chelsea Clinton might be wearing this weekend?

Well, here’s what Paul Krugman had to say that same morning, on a very much healthcare-related note:

But progressive disillusionment isn’t just a matter of sky-high expectations meeting prosaic reality. Threatened filibusters didn’t force Mr. Obama to waffle on torture; to escalate in Afghanistan; to choose, with exquisitely bad timing, to loosen the rules on offshore drilling early this year.

Nor did “threatened filibusters force” the President to continue to deny women equal access to healthcare, as he did today.

What has the President said about this issue, albeit via his HHS Secretary? Well, in effect, that when it comes to healthcare (of all things) men can pay their own way (for whatever they want), but women can’t. No matter what harm that may cause to them.

This is tragic, especially when there’s just no earthly reason for it, not to mention nothing so prosaic as “threatened filibusters.”

In the “dog days of August” two decades ago, I met a young community organizer at a public hearing on Chicago’s South Side. He and I sat together and listened and learned from neighborhood residents seeking what we all deserve: a fair shake. That organizer was Barack Obama.

Well, Mr. President: Then you couldn’t deliver to those women the fair shake they deserved. But, today, in this upcoming “dog days of August” week, you, and only you, can deliver — to each and every American woman — the fair shake she deserves, the one that’s about saving her life and health.

Mr. President: As you think about your visits with those women autoworkers [last week], think about their lives as well as their jobs. Their lives depend on you. You have made that very clear today. Don’t fail them by permitting this HHS rule to live.

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