I was recently invited by Senator Mark Begich to join him and nearly two dozen other U.S. senators in Washington, D.C., for a discussion with the nation’s women’s rights leaders.
Our conversation focused on the many benefits America’s women will receive under the Affordable Care Act, including free mammograms for women over 40, cervical cancer screenings at no additional cost and preventing insurance companies from charging women more than men.
We also discussed pending legislation which would restrict women’s rights, including limiting access to birth control and abortion. Fortunately some legislation is moving in the right direction. Senator Jean Shaheen’s amendment to the Department of Defense Authorization Act would repeal the ban on the abortion services for women serving in the military who are survivors of rape or incest.
I told the senators about a new troubling issue facing Alaskan women. In June, abortion providers were informed of a regulation change for medically necessary abortion coverage which imposes a new burdensome requirement. This change will make it significantly more difficult for women, especially those of low income, to use their right to public funding of medically necessary abortion. Alaskans need to be wary of this new definition and its implications, and demand accountability from elected and state officials who need to explain this change to Alaskans.
I worked for the State of Alaska for 26 years, served three terms on the Alaska Planned Parenthood Board of Directors, and am currently a member of the Juneau Pro-Choice Coalition and the Alaska Women’s Lobby.