It's been decades since the landmark court case Roe v. Wade decided that bans on abortion were unconstitutional, but the fight for reproductive health care is ongoing. Although abortion is, as always, one of the most controversial topics, we also have to worry about a number of insurance issues now that the American Health Care Act (ACHA) is headed to the Senate. (The exact timeline for when it will be put to a Senate vote is unclear.) Critics point out that under the revised ACHA, Planned Parenthood's federal funding would be slashed, potentially leaving millions of patients without access to reproductive health care, and the bill rolls back protections for patients with pre-existing conditions — something that may disproportionately affect women.
The AHCA allows states to apply for waivers to opt out of many of the protections put in place by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). As others have noted, many aspects of women's health care could be considered grounds for denial of insurance coverage. Before the ACA, for example, there were documented cases of insurance companies turning women away because they had been sexually assaulted or experienced domestic violence, presumably because rape kits and therapy cost money. Under the AHCA, having assault or intimate partner violence in your medical history could result in higher premiums, possibly making insurance unaffordable for many survivors. The AHCA waiver program would also allow states to decide whether to include maternity care as an "essential benefit" insurance companies are required to cover. Historically, if companies don't have to cover maternity care on an individual plan, they usually won't.
Combined with the tightening of restrictions on abortion rights across the country, it's clear that reproductive health care is a pressing issue. Here are 19 little ways to protect it.
1. Use the word "abortion," not a euphemism.
3. Call your senators to encourage them to vote against the AHCA.
4. If your House representatives voted against the AHCA on May 4, call them in support. (You can find a list of how representatives voted here.)
5. Donate to NARAL Pro-Choice America.
6. If you've had an abortion, talk about it. The best way to normalize anything is by acknowledging it.
I hope one day we’ll get to a point when the discussion of abortion is led by people who’ve had them and the providers who offer them.— Renee Bracey Sherman (@RBraceySherman) April 24, 2017
7. Volunteer as a clinic escort.
8. Find a local reproductive health center, if one exists, and volunteer as much time as you're willing to spare.
9. Read through and amplify #ShoutYourAbortion posts on Twitter.
10. If you know someone who has had an abortion, offer your support. If they want to talk about it, let them talk.
11. Stay informed on abortion legislation. The Hyde Amendment, for example, prohibits federal funding from being used on abortions, so efforts to "defund" abortion-providing organizations don't actually do much to influence the number of procedures performed.
12. Fact-check your politicians. Planned Parenthood has a guide to this on their website.
13. Choose a pro-choice OB/GYN.
14. Speak out about being pro-choice — tweet, make a Facebook post, etc.
15. Push your representatives to protect birth control access in your state. It may not be necessary yet, but it's better to be prepared.
16. Send a thank-you card to a clinic providing abortions in your state.
17. If you have school-age children, or you're a student yourself, encourage the school board to provide comprehensive sexual education.
18. Attend a pro-choice rally.
19. Know the facts about abortion. Research has shown that far too many laws are based on claims that conflict with established medical facts. (Fetuses, for example, can't feel pain at 20 weeks, yet that's the justification for certain laws banning abortions from that point.) If you stay informed, you're better prepared to counter arguments against abortion. If you're lucky, you might even meet someone willing to listen to reason.