#EveryWoman, The Hobby Lobby Case, and The Supreme Court

#EveryWoman at the Supreme Court

#EveryWoman 

As the Supreme Court Justices deliberate, #EveryWoman aims to make sure that they know the mainstream views and practices of Americans regarding birth control. Women’s access to affordable contraception, that is responsive to each woman’s health and life conditions, is a fundamental right with widely accepted health benefits.

Public discussions around the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood cases have sometimes been shrouded in technical debates over interpretations of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

In the words of Justice Kagan, regarding the Affordable Care Act:  Congress has given a statutory entitlement and that entitlement is to women and includes contraceptive coverage.

Whatever the Court decides, the Trust Women/Silver Ribbon Campaign and our supporters aim to assure that this access continues.

The Hobby Lobby Case

The Affordable Care Act as adopted in 2010 required all health insurance plans to cover contraception as a preventive health benefit for women, without any additional copayments or deductibles. But some religious groups opposed this provision, primarily the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and some evangelical Christian groups.  The final regulations issued in 2013 provided exemptions from the contraception coverage mandate to a wide assortment of employers, including those that admittedly hire employees of other faiths.   Numerous private employers followed suit by seeking an exemption from the law, based on the religious beliefs of the owners.  Lower courts issued a variety of conflicting rulings.  The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case presented by two such corporations, Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood. The case was presented on March 25, 2014, and a decision is expected towards the end of June.

The owners of these 2 for-profit corporations assert that their personal religious beliefs are also held by their corporations. Those beliefs compel them to want to offer health insurance to their employees, and they agree to include coverage of contraceptives. However, their beliefs also include opposition to abortion.  They mistakenly believe that certain contraceptives cause abortions, in preventing a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus wall.  Science has shown that, instead, these methods prevent fertilization.  If Hobby Lobby and Conestoga  Wood can legitimately avoid following the law due to these claims, it could destabilize a range of other laws.

Selected excerpts from the transcript of the hearing in March demonstrate the Justices’ range of views.

JUSTICE KAGAN: Justice Sotomayor is quite right that there are quite a number of medical treatments that different religious groups object to. So one religious group could opt out of this and another religious group could opt out of that and everything would be piecemeal and nothing would be uniform. (p.6)

JUSTICE KAGAN: But, again, Mr. Clement, as Justice Ginsburg said, this was a very uncontroversial law. Your understanding of this law, your interpretation of it, would essentially subject the entire U.S. Code to the highest test in constitutional law, to a compelling interest standard. So another employer comes in and that employer says, I have a religious objection to sex discrimination laws; and then another employer comes in, I have a religious objection to minimum wage laws; and then another, family leave; and then another, child labor laws. And all of that is subject to the exact same test which you say is this unbelievably high test, the compelling interest standard with the least restrictive alternative. (p.14)

JUSTICE KAGAN: Well, with respect, Mr. Clement, I think that … the Court has had a different understanding of what the Religious Freedom Restoration Act does and the kind of analysis that it requires courts to perform than you’re arguing for in this case. …if your argument were adopted and there was a strict scrutiny standard of the kind that usually applies and a least restrictive alternative requirement, then you would see religious objectors come out of the woodwork  with respect to all of these laws. And because you say — and I think this is absolutely right when you say it — that you cannot test the centrality of a belief to a religion, you cannot test the sincerity of religion. I think a court’s hands would be bound when faced with all these challenges if your standard applies. (p.16)

JUSTICE KAGAN: But Mr. Clement, it’s not saying you must do something that violates your religion. It’s giving you a choice. You can do this thing or if this thing violates your religion you can do another thing. And that other thing is approximately the same price as the thing that you don’t want to do. (p.25)

JUSTICE KAGAN: I mean, Mr. Clement, isn’t that just a way of saying that you think that this isn’t a good statute, because it asks one person to subsidize another person. But Congress has made a judgment and Congress has given a statutory entitlement and that entitlement is to women and includes contraceptive coverage. And when the employer says, no, I don’t want to give that, that woman is quite directly, quite tangibly harmed. (p.37)

JUSTICE GINSBURG: It would make no difference if it were — there are 20 FDA-approved contraceptives, all of them covered by the Healthcare Act. (p. 38)

JUSTICE GINSBURG: You picked out, in one case, three, and the other case four? Suppose the employer says contraceptives all together are against my religion, so I’m not going to give any contraceptive coverage. (p. 38)

JUSTICE GINSBURG: But your argument, it seems to me, would apply just as well if the employer said no contraceptives.

JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR: Is your claim limited to sensitive materials like contraceptives or does it include items like blood transfusion, vaccines? For some religions, products made of pork? Is any claim under your theory that has a religious basis, could an employer preclude the use of those items as well? (p.4)

JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR: How does a corporation exercise religion? I mean, I know how it speaks and we have, according to our jurisprudence, 200 years of corporations speaking in its own interests. But where are the cases that show that a corporation exercises religion? (p.18)

JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR: So the dissent in this case, in the Tenth Circuit case, said how do we determine when a corporation has that belief? Who says it? The majority of shareholders? The corporate officers? The — is it 51 percent? What happens to the minority? And how much of the business has to be dedicated to religion? 5 percent? 10 percent? 90 percent? Just assume not a business like yours – you picked great plaintiffs, but let’s assume — Let’s assume just a business that sells 5 percent of religious books, doesn’t play Christmas music, doesn’t give off – works on Sunday, you know, does nothing else religiously. (p.18)

JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR: Is there — a different way of looking at it, the leeway? In U.S. v. Lee, we said, “When followers of a particular sect enter into a commercial activity as a matter of choice, the limits they accept on their own conduct as a matter of conscience and faith are not to be superimposed on the  statutory schemes which are binding on others in that activity.” So isn’t that really the answer, that we’ve never considered a for-profit corporation as exercising religion? (p.20-21)

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: I thought that part of the religious commitment of the owners was to provide health care for its employees.

JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR: Well, if they want to do that, they can just pay a greater salary and let the employees go in on the exchange. (p.23)

JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR: May I just put a footnote on this. I thought the average price of providing insurance for a single person is $4,000, and it’s $12,000 for a family — for a family. So the $2,000 tax — that’s what it’s called — is to help the government provide subsidies to people on the exchange that don’t have employer insurance. So it’s a tax because it is to do exactly what your client wants, to get the government to supply the contraceptives, not the insurance companies. (p. 26)

JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR: Counsel, one of the attorneys below on behalf of your clients admitted that the grandfathered policies weren’t going to be around very long because any change to an existing policy [terminates such plans] — and he said these changes happen on a yearly basis. And we already know from the government’s statistics that up to 40 percent now have grandfathered out. Your own client changed its policy, and that’s why it’s not grandfathered. And he changed it to drop contraceptives it was covering. (p.31)

JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR: I’m not sure that squares with Lee. The statute created the right to Social Security, and there the Court said you can’t deprive employees of a statutory right because of your religious beliefs. So Lee is contrary to the point you’re making. (p.35)

JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR: So we go back to the start of my question, that would be essentially the same for vaccines, blood transfusions, non-pork products, the government has to pay for all of the medical needs that an employer thinks or claims it has a religious exemption to? (p.84)

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Isn’t that what we are talking about in terms of their religious beliefs? One of the religious beliefs is that they have to pay for these four methods of contraception that they believe provide abortions. (p.76)

JUSTICE SCALIA: There is not a single case which says that a for-profit enterprise cannot make a freedom of religion claim, is there? (p.50)

JUSTICE SCALIA: You’re talking about, what, three or four birth controls, not all of them, just those that are abortifacient. That’s not terribly expensive stuff, is it? (p.66)

JUSTICE ALITO: What about the implications of saying that no for-profit corporation can raise any sort of free exercise claim at all and nobody associated with the for-profit corporation can raise any sort of free exercise claim at all?

Let me give you this example. According to the media, Denmark recently prohibited kosher and halal slaughter methods because they believe that they are inhumane. Now, suppose Congress enacted something like that here. What would a corporation that is a kosher or halal slaughterhouse do? They would simply — they would have no recourse whatsoever. They couldn’t even get a day in court. They couldn’t raise a RFRA claim. They couldn’t raise a First Amendment claim. (p.78)

The Supreme Court

 

Supreme Court  Basics

The Supreme Court includes 9 justices, appointed for life. Each Justice is nominated by the president who is in office at the time a vacancy occurs, usually due to the resignation or death of another justice, and must be approved by a vote of the Senate.

The Court is part of the judiciary, one of the three branches of the U.S. government.  The other two branches are the Executive (president, who appoints the heads of U.S. agencies, such as the Dept. of Health and Human Services); and the legislature, including Congress.

The role of the Supreme Court is to decide whether particular laws or regulations adopted by local, state or federal legislatures or regulatory authorities are consistent with the U.S. Constitution.

Supreme Court decisions have played a key role in expanding access to contraception and abortion.  In Griswold v. Connecticut in 1965, the court found that the Constitution protected a right to privacy, striking down a state law that restricted unmarried people from obtaining contraceptives, followed by the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, that legalized abortion.

The Justices are supposed to be nonpartisan.  They are generally considered to be divided on reproductive rights.

All of the Justices who are married appear to have used contraception regularly, as each has 3 or fewer children, except for Scalia, who has 9. (details below.) http://www.supremecourt.gov/about/biographies.aspx

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* Tweet about why access to affordable contraception is important, and share it with all of your followers.  Use #EveryWoman, and tell @SCOTUS and @oursilverribbon!

* Advocate Action: Sign and comment on our PETITION

 

Hobby Lobby’s Religion: Boko Haram

House of Reps All-Male Hearing on Contraception, 2012

Hobby Lobby today announced that although it is a corporation, it does indeed have a religion: Boko Haram.  When its Christian owners argued before the Supreme Court to assert their right to deny insurance coverage for 4 types of birth control on the basis of the corporation’s religious beliefs, Justice Sotomayor questioned “How does a corporation exercise religion?”  The Corporation itself has so far been silent on its actual religious affiliation.

“With so many of our successful practices under attack around the globe this month, we felt it was time to speak publicly in defense of our faith,” the Corporation said.  “On May 6, a Boko Haram leader claimed responsibility for abducting hundreds of Nigerian school girls, planning to sell them.  In the U.S., with legislation in Missouri and Louisiana aiming to strip abortion providers of their right to practice, and in Congress to ban abortions after 20 weeks, when low-income women and women with medical abnormalities are most likely to need them, our staunch doctrine of assuring the long-term, structural subservience of women has been making enormous strides.

“The firing of Jill Abramson for her ‘brusque’ management style as NY Times editor, to be replaced by the man who had responded entirely appropriately to her by punching a hole in the wall at the Times, was simply more than we could have hoped for.

“This cascade of previously unimaginable successes has of course inflamed uncontrollably whiny, emotional, and humorless feminist apparatchiks around the globe, from groups like a Billion Rising, and the Trust Women/Silver Ribbon Campaign.   These modern women and their supporters would convince the US Supreme Court that it’s time to set the record straight and dismiss Hobby Lobby’s arguments, simply because they reflect the last gasp of the backwards, fringe mentality we represent. And frankly, the recent denunciation of Boko Haram by Al Qaeda contributed to prompting our declaration. By coming out publicly to claim our corporation’s religious affiliation with Boko Haram, we intend to put all such diversions to rest.”

(The corporation went  on to explain how this unique circumstance entitled it to claim its independent right to assert that Plan B should not be covered by Hobby Lobby because it is an abortifacient, which is otherwise labeled by mainstream scientific evidence as “absolutely without any foundation whatsoever.”)

REALLY??? The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party On Birth Control

Featured

Attacks on access to birth control and abortion are out of touch, and often off the deep end.

These attacks don’t make sense.

But they are damaging people.

On March 25, the Supreme Court will hear a case to decide whether a for-profit private corporation can deny employees health insurance coverage for contraception. It’s bad enough that the employers’ opposition in this case is based on fake science, putting public health and the well-being of millions of women at risk. In addition, they claim that the corporations they run have a religious conscience.

Sound like a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party?  Check out our short punchy video (click below).

Had enough of the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party?  You can make a difference! Join the Trust Women/Silver Ribbon Campaign.   We’re speaking up and speaking out.  We are the people you’ve been waiting for! (and so are you.)

Together, we will safeguard reproductive health, rights, and justice, and reclaim common sense in public debate.

 

Fran Johns Letter to the Editor: Strike the Banners

strike the banners

Re the banners on Market Street proclaiming “Abortion hurts women”: The proclamation is hate speech and untrue (“Ah, the holiday season along Market Street,” City Insider, Jan. 1).

That the city of San Francisco should allow this to be broadcast across our main thoroughfare or any thoroughfare at all is damaging and hurtful to women and men alike.

The March for Life banner-hangers have every right to their religious and political beliefs. They do not have the right to spread misinformation in utter disregard of girls and women everywhere. Women like me.

I had a back-alley abortion in 1956 after a workplace rape. The abortion did not hurt me; it gave me back my life. I was lucky. Millions of women like me, before Roe vs. Wade offered safety, were indeed hurt – or wound up dead.

If each marcher under those banners could find and know one actual fetus to protect, and simultaneously see and know the woman in whose body that fetus resides, I suggest the marcher might want to protect that woman too. She is likely to be poor, disempowered and desperate. Forcing those like her to bear unwanted children or endanger themselves – that hurts women. The banners should come down.

Fran Johns, San Francisco

San Francisco Chronicle, Letters to the Editor, Jan. 4, 2014

http://www.sfgate.com/opinion/letterstoeditor/article/Letters-to-the-editor-Jan-4-5112353.php

Lies About Abortion Hurt Women

We are shocked to see banners falsely claiming that “Abortion hurts women” hanging from the City’s lamp posts on Market Street in San Francisco. This statement is false, and harmful to women and girls.  The display contradicts City policies and practices. We call on the Mayor to take the banners down.

1. Abortion is safe.  Access to legal abortion services is essential.

Access to legal and affordable family planning health care services including abortion has been critical for expanding economic, educational and professional success and emotional satisfaction for women, the men and children in their lives and for communities as a whole. Denied abortion care can perpetuate poverty.

The best birth control can sometimes fail. About 1 in 3 U.S. women have at least one abortion.

According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, abortion is one of the safest medical procedures. The risk of death from carrying a pregnancy to term is 13 times that of abortion in the U.S. (1)

Too many women routinely lost their lives from illegal abortions before 1973. Today, deaths from abortion have all but disappeared.

2. State and federal legislation increasingly aim to defund reproductive health care services and limit women’s rights.

Campaigns to defund and stigmatize abortion, and impose repressive views about sexuality, disempower and subordinate women and girls, and prevent them from choosing and using the vital reproductive health care services they think best.  Their tactics include violence against abortion providers, and harassment of patients at health centers. These actions hurt women and girls.

3. San Francisco must preach what we practice. 

San Francisco and California do an outstanding job of improving the accessibility and affordability of reproductive health care, including abortion care.  We can be proud that San Francisco and California policies support women’s health.  But our public pronouncements matter.

By approving these banners for prominent display on public property on Market St., San Francisco’s “Main Street,” the City contributes to undermining women’s personal and private medical decisions, and undermining public health.

It is further troubling that these lies are posted just outside of major commercial institutions, including See’s Candy, First Republic Bank, Wells Fargo Bank, and E-Trade, implying that these institutions believe that “Abortion Hurts Women.” We hope that they do not.

The banners violate the City’s own regulations, because they display an inaccurate date for the related event, and the event is not of interest to a significant portion of San Francisco residents. The event is mainly attended by residents bussed in from elsewhere. The City should improve and enforce these rules.

San Francisco’s elected leaders should take a stand against this statement that lies about public health. They should advocate proactively for public health policies and services that encourage women’s right to choose the best course for their own reproductive health. This stand should include support for the federal Women’s Health Protection Act.

We call on the City to Take Down the Banners.

ORGANIZATIONS:  To sign on, Click “Leave Reply” below, enter Name, Title, Organization, Email. Phone

 Addendum

The City has grounds and precedent for limiting and redressing harm from hateful and discriminatory speech. There are good legal examples of countermeasures the City has taken in expressions of discrimination against LGBT people and Muslims. (see below)  We must pursue such a course now.

San Francisco Board of Supervisors Resolutions

San Francisco Board of Supervisors

2012 Resolution File #121172 Resolution #477-12

[Commemoration of Roe v. Wade Anniversary] Resolution commemorating the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade and commending the work of pro-choice advocates and service providers in the City and County of San Francisco.

http://www.sfbos.org/ftp/uploadedfiles/bdsupvrs/resolutions12/r0477-12.pdf

2009 Resolution File #090995 Resolution #348-09

Resolution urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to conduct a comprehensive investigation on hate speech in the media, allowing public participation via public hearings, and to update the 1993 report on the Role of Telecommunications in Hate Crimes, including public participation via public hearings.

http://www.sfbos.org/ftp/uploadedfiles/bdsupvrs/resolutions09/r0348-09.pdf

2006 Resolution File #060356 Resolution #168-06

Resolution urging Cardinal William Levada, in his capacity as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican, to withdraw his discriminatory and defamatory directive that Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of San Francisco stop placing children in need of adoption with homosexual households.

http://www.sfbos.org/ftp/uploadedfiles/bdsupvrs/resolutions06/r0168-06.pdf

2006 Resolution File #060356 Resolution #180-06

Resolution condemning upcoming rally to be held by anti-abortion groups in front of City Hall on Friday, March 24, 2006. http://www.sfbos.org/ftp/uploadedfiles/bdsupvrs/resolutions06/r0180-06.pdf

(1)    http://health.usnews.com/health-news/family-health/womens-health/articles/2012/01/23/abortion-safer-for-women-than-childbirth-study-claims

Signers:

San Francisco Women’s Political Caucus

Trust Women/Silver Ribbon Campaign

Women in California Women’s Agenda (CAWA)

Women’s Intercultural Network (WIN)

TRUST WOMEN WEEK, JAN. 22-28, 2013 ~ UNITE, SPEAK OUT, ORGANIZE!

TRUST WOMEN WEEK, JAN. 22-28, 2013 ~ UNITE, SPEAK OUT, ORGANIZE!

January 22, 2013, marks the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v Wade that legalized abortion in the U.S.

The Silver Ribbon Campaign to Trust Women is participating in the second National Online March for Trust Women Week.  Click here to join people around the U.S. expressing support for reproductive health, rights and justice. You can add  your own comments,  and invite everyone you know to join in and speak up. We and our partner organizations commit to sending your   views to policy-makers, and to keeping you informed of the big issues   that lie ahead this year, and actions you can take.

Women won historic numbers of seats in Congress in the November election. Voters across the political spectrum supported women’s reproductive  health, rights, and justice, and defeated candidates who trivialized  women’s safety. Florida rejected a ballot measure that would outlaw  public funding for abortions.

But many state legislatures and members of Congress continue to attack  access to birth control and abortion care, and cut funds for health care providers like Planned Parenthood. In Mississippi, state regulators plan to force  the last clinic that provides abortions to close. These  restrictions most severely affect low-income women and women of color,  and women in certain geographic areas.

Threats continue to women’s long-term economic and social security and safety.

Trust Women Week partner organizations are joining together to express the  powerful voices of the majority of women, men, children, families and  communities who uphold traditional American values of democracy, independence, fairness, progress, innovation and pragmatism.

See www.oursilverribbon.org to find an event near you – or create one and post it!

Messages to Congress

1.      I Trust Women and I Vote
Women can make our own decisions about our reproductive health, and we did and will vote to enforce that right.

2.      Her decision, her health
We extend respect and compassion to individual women facing decisions about a pregnancy.

3.      Keep abortion safe and legal, and make it accessible and affordable


4.      Stand up and be counted for the human right to reproductive health and justice.
Reproductive justice and rights call on us to create the  conditions necessary for health, recognizing that we must take action to overcome disparities based on social factors including race, gender,  and income. 

5.      Contraception is Prevention
Contraception must be included in preventive health care benefits in all public and private health insurance programs

6.      Fix the economy and stop the attacks on women’s health.
We call on the government and our elected officials to help improve our lives and create the conditions to be healthy.
7.      U.S. Out of My Uterus
Politicians should stop interfering in women’s personal health decisions, especially related to reproductive biology and sex.

Mon. Dec. 10: Show Up! To Save Social Programs, Tax Wall Street

On Monday, Dec. 10, International Human Rights Day, join Robin Hood and community members at Congressional offices around the country to demand “no cuts” to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and call on Congress to tax Wall Street.   (List via Health GAP, Jennifer Flynn jflynn@healthgap.org)

Austin, TX: 4-6 p.m., Chase Bank building (Senate offices housed there), 221 W. Sixth St.

Bakersfield, CA: 4-6 p.m., Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s office, 4100 Empire Drive, Suite 150

Bangor, ME: 10 a.m. press conference, 5:30PM candlelight vigil, Sen. Susan Collins ‘ office, 202 Harlow Street, Room 204

Boston, MA: 4-6 p.m., Sen. John Kerry ‘s, office, One Bowdoin Square, #10

Campbell, CA: 4-6 p.m., Rep. Mike Honda’s office, 1999 S. Bascon Ave., Suite 815

Concord, CA: 4-6 p.m., Rep. George Miller’s office, 1333 Willow Pass Rd., Suite 203

Duluth, MN: time to be announced, Rep. Chip Cravaack’s office

Fresno, CA: 4-6 p.m., Rep. Jim Costa’s office, 855 M. St., Suite 940

Gold River, CA: 4-6 p.m., Rep. Dan Lungren’s office, 2339 Gold Meadow Way, Suite 220

Rockville, MD: 4-6 p.m., Rep. Chris Van Hollen’s office, 6475 New Hampshire Ave. Ste C-201

Kalamazoo, MI: 4-6 p.m., Rep. Fred Upton’s office, 157 South Kalamazoo Mall, Suite 180

Los Angeles, CA: 4-6 p.m., Rep. Henry Waxman’s office, 8436 W. Third St., Suite 600
New York, NY: 4-6 p.m., Offices of Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand 780 3rd Ave. New York City

Orange, CA: 4-6 p.m., Rep. Ed Royce’s office, 1110 E. Chapman Ave., Suite 207

San Francisco, CA: 4-6 p.m., Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s office, 90 7th St., Suite 2-800

Seminole, FL: 4-6 p.m., Rep. Bill Young’s office, 9210 113th St.

St.  Louis: 12 noon, starting at the SSA offices,  5669 Delmar Blvd then  marching to Sen. Claire McCaskills office, 5850 Delmar Blvd, Suite A

Stockton, CA:  4-6 p.m., Rep. Jerry McNerney’s office, 2222 Grand Canal Blvd., Suite 7

Vista, CA:  4-6 p.m., Rep. Darrell Issa’s office, 1800 Thibodo Rd., Suite 310

For a list of all Fiscal Showdown events in the San Francisco Bay Area, click on this link   (via MoveOn, Frank Burton frank.burton.now@gmail.com)

http://pol.moveon.org/event/events/index.html?_s=e16a25b85e72587bb8049adbf98dc0995ebb29c4c4774c205643a69fc874e6de&action_id=300&id=&search_distance=30&search_zip=94601&submit=Search

Protect Social Security Medicare and Medicaid!

Please click here to sign the petition to Protect Social Security. Medicare and Medicaid:

Women, communities of color and allies call on  Congress and the President to protect Social Security, Medicare and  Medicaid

The Issues

As Congress reconvenes to address the budget, the first order of business  must be to protect the benefits we rely on through Social Security, Medicare and  Medicaid.

Congress failed for the last 2 years to agree on proposals to manage the  federal budget and the deficit, and now faces a “fiscal cliff:” without further  action, cuts to the military and social programs would be phased in starting in  January, 2013. The Bush-era tax cuts would also expire, meaning taxes would go  up both for wealthy and middle-income people, starting in January. To avoid  these consequences, Congress could just raise tax rates for the wealthiest 2% of  the population, but carve out middle-income people, who need the cash to  stimulate the economy. Failing that, groups associated with finance capital have  advocated for a “Grand Bargain,” first proposed by the failed Simpson-Bowles  commission, to cut benefits for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, as a  trade off for some tax increases.

Cutting benefits from Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid would be  especially harmful to the health of women, who live longer but have lower  incomes. Additionally, women of color, who already experience a host of health  disparities and difficulties in accessing critical health services, would be  disproportionately impacted by any erosion of Medicaid.

Raising the age of eligibility for Social Security income support, or  reducing benefits, would tip millions of elderly women into poverty,  including many without family or friends as caregivers, and who are people of  color. They would have to spend down their savings to become eligible for  Medicaid, and experience medically unnecessary confinement in nursing homes as a  result.

Medicare is the major source of payment for hospital and ambulatory care as  well as for rehabilitation services and considerable home health and nursing  home care. Forcing women to neglect necessary care at ages 65-67 would result in  greater risk of complications from chronic diseases as they grow older.

Medicaid provides essential support to pregnant women, their children and  people using long term care services at home, in their communities and in  skilled nursing facilities. Any reduction of these benefits would irretrievably  harm health and hasten death among women.

Further, the Social Security Trust Fund is entirely solvent through 2038,  requiring only minor tweaks in the interim to extend into the future. Medicare  and Medicaid are affected by health care cost increases, but cutting benefits  will not solve those problems.

Protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid

The text of the petition

On Nov. 6, women and communities of color gave the margin of victory to a  President and members of Congress who promised to fight for higher taxes on the  wealthy, for more public investment and for careful cuts in spending, while  revitalizing the economy.

As Congress begins to negotiate on the budget, the first order of business  must be to protect the benefits we rely on through Social Security, Medicare and  Medicaid. Cutting benefits from Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid would be  especially harmful to the health of women, who live longer but have lower  incomes. Additionally, women of color, who already experience a host of health  disparities and difficulties in accessing critical health services would be  disproportionately impacted by any erosion of Medicaid. These cuts would do  nothing to address the deficit. Such cuts would force women ages 65-67 to  neglect needed health care, worsening chronic conditions throughout their lives.  Reduced income support would force many elderly women without family or friends  as caregivers to spend down to qualify for Medicaid, and experience medically  unnecessary confinement in nursing homes as a result.

There is a ready solution to raise revenue: Let the Bush tax cuts expire for  the wealthiest 2% of Americans.

We urge you to fight for:

1. No cuts to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid benefits

2. Let the Bush tax cuts expire for the wealthiest 2% of Americans.

Click here to sign http://trustwomen.civicactions.org/twsilverribbon/protect_social_security_medicare_and_medicaid