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Martha Burk Headshot

Throwing Women Overboard -- Again

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This is going to be a short -- but not too sweet -- message to the President.

Mr. President, in your speech to a joint session of Congress, you managed once again to gratuitously use women's rights to placate the right, assuring the nation that no public funds will be used to cover abortion in the new health care overhaul.

Dammit President Obama -- we support you. Women put you in office, and stuck with you when the crazies were beating you up with "death panels" and "socialized medicine."

We still support you, but like millions of women who were watching, we wonder why you have to always use our most intimate health issues as a bargaining chip to give away, when you're not going to get anything back. You did it at Notre Dame, and now you've done it again.

In defending your health care plan you stood up for the public option, and we applaud you for that. You stood up for Medicaid -- the health care of last resort for millions of poor women and their children. We applaud you for that. You stood up for Medicare -- the safety net for many more older women than men, because we live longer and have fewer private policies following us from our careers. We applaud that too.

But what about our daughters and granddaughters? What about those poor women who face life-threatening situations when they must continue a dangerous pregnancy? You let us down once again by not calling for repeal of the restrictions on our reproductive health care that are already in place in Medicaid coverage.

And worse, you opened the door for private policies to cancel abortion coverage if their clients are using any government subsidy money to pay the premiums.

To put reproductive health care on par with "death panels" and scare tactics about illegal immigrants being covered is an insult to women. We are now the majority of American citizens, the majority of voters, and the majority that continues to support you. Stand up for us.

As the debate heats up in the coming days, we must paraphrase the question from our foremothers -- Mr. President, how long must women wait for equality?