Choice or NO Choice

From my earliest childhood memories the words choice have always meant something to me. Adults often reminded me and my friends that, “You have a choice in life. Make the right choice on the road to success.” You have the choice to make friends with those who support you or those who oppose you. America’s dream is built on freedom of choice for your faith, your education, your spouse and your neighborhood. While the choices weren’t always possible, the aspiration was that choice was a right. In my early years it wasn’t always clear which choices were off limits or which choices powerful people could deny others. The Vietnam War, the peace movement and the Civil Rights movement of the early 1960’s shocked thousands into the reality that they could be denied a choice.

Now members of Congress in both the House and Senate have undertaken a war on women with S.906, the companion to H.R.3, which recently passed the U.S. House of Representatives. H.R.3 is an over zealous effort to restrict insurance coverage for and reduce access to abortions. The legislation, sponsored by Reps. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) would deny tax credits to small businesses that purchase health insurance plans offering abortion coverage, which would currently affect about 87 percent of private insurance plans that provide such coverage. Another controversial component of the bill could force sexual-assault survivors who choose to have an abortion to prove to the IRS that the assault occurred.

Women who vote in larger proportion than men, whose wages lag behind men, who live in poverty more than men, who are represented in a larger proportion of the workforce, who are more likely to be the head of the household, who are more likely to rear children and more likely to be the victim of a violent crime are grossly underrepresented in the halls of political power and among the powerful forces in Congress that seek to limit their healthcare choices. Women must let their voices be heard on the choices that make a difference to them. It is a matter of choice, which is fundamental to America’s aspiration as a nation of equal opportunity and fairness. The healthcare proposals debated in Congress return women to second-class citizenship curtailing their freedom to exercise a choice that may be best for themselves and their families. The rich among us have options by virtue of their wealth. The rest of us have to rely on public policy that allows each of us to make healthcare choices we can afford. The passage of S.906 and H.R.3 will erode the majority of American women’s healthcare choices. It is a matter of national urgency and it should be our individual choice to give birth to a child.