As we move into the fall and the end of the 2016 election season, there will be new opportunities for UUWF public policy witness and education around justice for women:
The spread of the Zika virus this summer into the continental United States (it had already hit Puerto Rica) has brought even more urgency to the need to pressure Congress when it returns to session on September 6. They must provide the funding necessary to abate this mosquito born disease and provide the necessary range of reproductive health protections and interventions for impacted women. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that there have already been more than 500 cases of Zika in pregnant people in the U.S. and at least 15 children have been born with Zika-related neurological damage. Now concentrated in Florida, health officials are predicting a spread to other Gulf Coast states over the next two years.
In the face of this, the majority party congressional leaders have stalled efforts to allocate adequate funds, and to use these funds effectively, by including restrictions in using these monies for contraception and by excluding Planned Parenthood from receiving any.
UUWF will be partnering with other religious and secular advocacy groups in asking Senate Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan to do what is required to combat Zika and protect the health of women and children.
Hyde Amendment Anniversary
On the 40th anniversary of the passage of the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits funding abortions, to the annual federal budget, there have been briefings scheduled by two congresswomen on the proposed “Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance(EACH) Woman Act.” This proposed national legislation would once again ensure that — no matter her income, zip code, or insurance provider — every woman should have access to pregnancy-related care, including abortion.
As part of the All Above All campaign to restore and sustain abortion coverage for low-income women, UUWF will be participating in a week of action in late September, including Facebook and Twitter events.
Paid Family & Medical Leave Bill
We will be supporting the National Partnership for Women & Families in their “Expecting Better” initiative to adopt a federal paid family leave and medical leave bill, which would augment the Family and Medical Leave Act. This landmark legislation has been used more than 200 million times since its passage in 1993 to provide workers with unpaid time off to care for a new child, to care for a family member with a serious health condition, or to address one’s own serious health condition.
Look for a UUWF fact sheet and possible webinar on the Democratic and Republican platforms on women’s justice issues — and what is at stake in the 2016 election. Coming in the next few weeks.