Friday, June 23, 2006

Feds Set to Kick Millions off Medicaid

Haven't heard this one in the news, huh?

According to federal legislation- that apparently slid through with nary a noise from most- new citizenship verification for those who rely on Medicaid to ensure health care coverage could mean that millions of elderly and young children (you know - nursing home residents, children in foster care - those that the administration could care less about) find themselves without the required documentation to receive their medicaid coverage by July 1st.

President Bush has signed into law a rule that would require those millions to produce birth certificates or passports to prove their United States citizenship. Yes, that means that an 85 year-old on a limited income struggling to maintain health care coverage who cannot find their birth certificate by July 1st will be permanently kicked off.

For low-income women who seek abortions in states that cover abortions through Medicaid (like Washington state) this will mean one more hurdle, no, barrier, to abortion access. The other day our clinic manager and I were discussing this near our waiting room. That day there happened to be a number of appointments with Latina clients. Looking out into the waiting room, our clinic manager remarked that none of these women would be able to have the abortions they have legally sought out.

Our front desk phone counselors help low-income women who have decided to have an abortion sign up for the medical coupons (medicaid) they need to pay for their abortions. Many of these women are Latina women, native Spanish speakers who do not have this kind of citizenship documentation readily available.

Thankfully, there are provisions written that, if passed, would "correct" this new damaging policy. The provisions include exempting all of those on Medicare as well as SSI (Social Security Insurance) recipients - sparing over 7 million elderly and disabled American citizens (including 1.5 million nursing home residents!); and foster care children. The provisions would also allow for birth records documentation to be in electronic form so that a state agency could e-mail the required documentation to a state DSHS agency making it less burdensome for the state agencies as well as the citizen applicants.

Lastly, the July 1st deadline is ridiculous. This administration is ready and willing to kick 50 million folks off of Medicaid in the next two weeks unless they can present this documentation asap. Do these folks use the U.S. mail? Have they ever dealt with a freakin' state agency before? Anyone who has ever been on welfare, unemployment, medicaid, medicare, applied for a driver's license or in any way dealt with a state agency before should know that it takes weeks, sometimes months, for applications to processed, forms to be sent, approved, recieved by or transmitted to the right person.

To think that it is in any way feasible for 50 million people to come up with either a birth certificate or a passport in the next two weeks is just absurd.

By the way, hold on to your hats, according to the New York Times: "The main proponents of the new requirements were two Republican House members from Georgia, Representatives Charlie Norwood and Nathan Deal."

So, as I am prone to do, write letters to the folks on two different committees: the Finance committee and Energy & Commerce committee - both of whom are the ones debating a "Pension Conference Report" that this technical corrections bill would be a part of.

If you're in Washington state, Rep. Jay Inslee is on the Energy and Commerce Comittee: Contact him!!!!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Boycott over Plan B Update!

Here is the information I received from the Plan B boycott team:

Here are links to two news articles about the Ralph's Thriftway situation here in Olympia:

As for the boycott, we are asking people to at least boycott for the month of July, although many people, such as myself, will not shop at any business owned by the Stormans corporation (Ralph's Thriftway, Bayview Thriftway, Daniel's House of Prayer) until Ralph's Thriftway pharmacy stocks Plan B.

We are beginning a picket line at Ralph's Thriftway on Wednesday, June 28th,
5-7 p.m., and continuing on the 29th, 5-7 p.m., 6/30, 5-7 p.m., and 7/2, 5-7 p.m. We will probably continue picketing throughout the month of July, but we haven't nailed down specific times beyond those listed above. We would love to have you join us!

Women who have abortions

So, I work at an abortion clinic. I have been involved with the reproductive rights movement for a long time - in particular the movement towards elevating women's voices to the forefront of this pro-choice/pro-life debate that is becoming increasing irrelevant as those on both sides cement their positions deeper and deeper.

I lead the development of a booklet at our center called "I Had An Abortion: Real Women. Real Choices." It is a collection of real women's stories about their experiences with abortion and the events and feelings leading up to and following the abortions.

I was on the board of a start-up magazine called Our Truths, Nuestras Verdades that seeks to provide a safe space for women and men to share their experiences with abortion as well as political commentary and analyses. I have written about the significance of women's stories resonating louder in this endless political debate because there is nothing, nothing that will change for women until we are able to come to terms with what we do with our own bodies, the power we hold over life and death. Until women are able to dialogue about this, talk freely and openly about our abortions, our births, our miscarriages, our children's deaths (and I don't mean necessarily in a public forum) we will NOT be able to claim we truly control our own bodies - even if abortion remains legal.

The truth is it's a vicious circle - keeping women unempowered, confused and shamed about their bodies only serves to ensure that women do not necessarily have the tools to make the best decisions about our lives and health. And please don't misunderstand me - abortion is NOT a bad decision in and of itself. However, if we do not allow women to feel empowered and in control of our bodies which includes pregnancy, we are not giving women the tools to be healthy and powerful.

There is a growing and vocal movement of us - The Abortion Diaries, Speak Out: I Had An Abortion, i' and many others I probably don't even know about - working towards a very concrete goal: women carving out the space in the world to deal with their abortion experiences, in the context of their larger reproductive health lives , in a healthy and appropriate way.

There is no one who has worked in reproductive health care that would ever say that having an abortion has absolutely no emotional ramifications - it's ridiculous. But so what?! Why should a procedure that has emotional ramifications for women automatically result in the complete dissolution of that procedure? Why does the pro-choice movement try so desperately to pretend that it has no emotional ramifications? Why does the pro-life movement pretend that emotional ramifications are absolutely untenable, impossible to deal with and the explanation for why that procedure should be outlawed?!

I'm tired of both sides of this debate getting it wrong. I'm tired of the political extremists (of which I must admit I am one) speaking on behalf of all women in this country and around the world. If we do not listen to women we will never "resolve" this. We are all yelling so loudly we can't hear the voices that matter most.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Cervical Cancer Vaccines are Evil

Or so the hard-core religious pre-lifers would have us believe. For those who are not aware: there are two vaccines currently approved by the FDA and awaiting approval from ACIP (Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices) that would innoculate against some of the strains of the sexually transmitted infection, HPV, that most commonly lead to cervical cancer!

There are over one hundred different strains of HPV. But types 6, 11, 16 and 18 cause 90 percent of genital warts and 70 percent of cervical cancer is caused by types 16 and 18. The vaccine that is most exciting is Gardasil which would protect against the above four strains.

HPV is common; about 80 percent of sexually active people have had an infection with HPV, although most of those cases clear on their own. If HPV genital infection can be prevented, it will make a major impact on the occurrence of cervical cancer.

The lives of thousands of women in the United States and hundreds of thousands of women in the Global South would be saved with the development of these vaccines. The Gates Foundation recently awarded PATH, an international public health organization, $28 million to bring this vaccine to developing nations.

The vaccine would be most effective when administered to girls well before they are sexually active - 9 - 12 years old - in this country. And since HPV is an STI (sexually transmitted infection/disease) we've got the religious pre-lifers hot on our tails!! They say NO! to this pagan, heathen, evil cancer prevention tool.

Absolutely not!

Why, an HPV vaccine available - and maybe even mandatory - for young girls would absolutely lead to free-sexploration, wild and crazy sex-mania for these young girls. Of course it would! If the hardline Christian right prelifers did not maintain control over my body, my daughter's body, your daughter's body, what would happen? Oh, right, their suffocating ideologies would fall by the wayside, their societal power would diminish and, g-d forbid, we'd be a true nation of equals.

Check out the president of Human Life International's letter to his "followers":

HPV Vaccine-Another Deception of the Culture of Death by Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer

Spirit & Life
Human Life International e-Newsletter

Volume 01, Number 20 | Friday, June 16, 2006

The big news recently is that the FDA has just approved a new vaccine supposedly to inoculate women against cervical cancer. Predictably, the media and health professionals are touting this as the greatest thing since the Salk vaccine, but they are also engaging in a propaganda campaign aimed at distorting the public's perception of it. I for one will stand against what I consider this newest marriage of the culture of death with junk science, and I believe we all should. In the next few weeks I intend to examine a number of aspects of this Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine for the benefit of parents who may some day be coerced into getting their kids vaccinated with it.

Let me start by pointing out a few basic elements of this vaccine and its service as a tool of the culture of death. First of all, did you ever wonder why all of a sudden we need a vaccine for just one sexually transmitted disease? Just to give you a little perspective: in the nineteen sixties, before the advent of the birth control pill and other forms of abortion-causing drugs, there were only three sexually transmitted diseases which at that time were known as venereal diseases, a name derived from Venus, the pagan goddess of sexual promiscuity.
Because of the exponential increase in illicit sexual activity in the past four decades, the number of distinct sexually transmitted diseases has risen to over thirty, not to mention the multiple strains of the distinct diseases. The Human Papilloma Virus, for example, is just one sexually transmitted disease, but it has over 100 different strains!
Only a small number of these strains actually lead to cancer and most of its victims don't know they have it and cure themselves over time.

Now, to put it into even clearer perspective: the much-touted HPV vaccine treats only two strains of HPV and two strains of genital warts.
This is a tour-de-force against HPV isn't it?

The most wretched hypocrisy of the promoters of this vaccine, however, is that, rather than calling it a vaccine against a couple strains of one of the dozens of sexually transmitted diseases, they are calling it a vaccine against cervical cancer. Well, it will certainly protect some women from cervical cancer in the future but that's not the point. The point is that there are overwhelming numbers of diseases, strains and even cancers that this vaccine does not protect from, all of which are gotten by the very same sexual act. Thinking that this vaccine gives blanket protection against cervical cancer (which of course is how it's perceived because that is how it's being promoted) is like believing that thirty people jumping out of the same airplane will all be protected because one of them is wearing a parachute.

This HPV vaccine, my friends, is a classic case of the culture of death playing fast and loose with people's lives. They use junk science to hook our terribly un-reflective culture on a promise that will benefit only a miniscule portion of the population, and then the false perception of security surrounding their newest ruse hooks everyone else into behaviors and lifestyles that perpetuate the damage and decay our decency.

Don't fall for it because pretty soon they will be forcing you-and your kids-to drink their potions to the dregs.

Sincerely Yours in Christ,

Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer,
President, Human Life International

And so it continues

Ralph’s Thriftway in Olympia, WA - one hour south of Seattle where I live - just announced that they will discontinue offering Plan B (emergency contraception) to its customers on moral grounds. The owners of the grocery store believe that women do not have the right to access Plan B and so they will not carry it. There is a large and vocal boycott growing down in Olympia. The store is under no legal requirement to stock Plan B but it’s their moral refusal that is truly disturbing.

"I don't want to get into a detailed debate," Kevin Stormans, one of the co-owners of Ralph's and Bayview Thriftways, said in an interview Tuesday. "I just think people have to choose when they believe life begins. There are questions about this drug on that issue."

Of course he doesn't want to get into a detailed debate. He has decided for all women that we do not have a right to use safe, legal contraception. What's to debate? Good ole Kevin.

I will post more info as I receive it but feel free to check out the article in today’s Olympian.

I was compelled to create this

I was compelled to create this blog through a mixture of revulsion and hope - hence the name "tikvahgirl" - tikvah is the hebrew word for hope.

The Senate voted yesterday NOT to raise the minimum wage approximately $2/hour from $5.15 to $7.25/hour. Meanwhile they voted to give themselves another raise (shock!) so your representatives are now making more than $168,500/year. The full-time minimum wage worker's salary is a bit above $10,000/year. I know people - it's really not like those guys and a handful of women to put their own self-wants and needs above their constituents. I mean, really, they are usually so giving, so generous.

I don't know what came over them.

Feminist Peace Network