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Plea for End to the Hyde Amendment January 16, 2009

Posted by Center for Inquiry Office of Public Policy in Annoucements, Commentary.
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On December 12, 2008, our OPP director, Toni Van Pelt, was among a group who met with Melody Barnes of the Obama transition team to urge an end to the Hyde Amendment, which restricts access to abortions for women enrolled in Medicaid. After the meeting, the 119 organizations, including the Center for Inquiry,  in the National Network of Abortion funds sent this letter to Ms.Barnes.

Fund abortion. Protect dignity and justice for all women.

January 8, 2009
Melody Barnes
Dear Director Barnes:
Thank you for taking the time to meet with members of the reproductive health and rights community on Friday, December 12, 2008. We appreciate the opportunity to participate in the Obama-Biden Transition Project’s information-gathering process. We look forward to working with you and the new Administration to ensure real reproductive choices for all women.
We wish to underscore the importance of our request that President Obama strike language in his first budget that blocks women’s access to abortion care, including restrictions on abortion funding for Medicaid-eligible women and Native American women (the Hyde Amendment), disabled women covered under Medicare, federal employees and their dependents (FEHB), residents of the District of Columbia, Peace Corps volunteers, and women in federal prisons. Women in the military and military families are also negatively affected by abortion funding bans. Though attached to different funding streams, we consider these restrictions to be a single issue requiring consistent and equal treatment by President Obama.
For more than thirty years, the Hyde Amendment and other funding restrictions have affected the poorest and most vulnerable of low-income Americans, with a disproportionate impact on women of color and immigrant women. The Hyde Amendment denies abortion access to the seven million women of reproductive age who are currently enrolled in Medicaid. These funding restrictions are the most detrimental of all attacks on safe, legal abortion care, and represent a clear violation of low-income women’s human rights.
In addition, abortion funding restrictions marginalize abortion care and disregard the fact that it is an integral part of the continuum of women’s reproductive health care.
By striking funding restrictions, President Obama can place abortion back in the context of health care, thereby setting a new tone and signaling to Congress his commitment to comprehensive women’s health care.
Further, this early commitment will bolster the efforts of our diverse and growing grassroots advocacy campaign as we continue educating the public and Members of Congress about the urgent need for a full repeal of these restrictions. There is precedent for a President who supports reproductive freedom to take this action, and we look forward to working with and supporting President Obama as he takes this step.
Today, more than ever, low-income women in the United States must have access to the resources that allow them to determine the size and timing of their families. Many of these women are already balancing the demands of jobs, children, school, diminishing paychecks, and the disproportionate burden of an economic downturn. Funding restrictions are often insurmountable obstacles for women with limited resources. Removing them is the first step to true health care reform, to abolishing class- and race-based discrimination, and to placing control, dignity, and self-determination back in the hands of the women to whom it belongs.
The signatories of this letter are members of a diverse and growing coalition of organizations who have come together to fight restrictions on abortion funding in order to ensure true access to abortion for the most marginalized women in our society. The Hyde – 30 Years is Enough! Campaign is coordinated by the National Network of Abortion Funds and was formed to mark the 30th anniversary of the Hyde Amendment in October, 2006. Since that time, the seventy organizations and more than 100 abortion Funds of the Network have worked to educate the public about the impact of funding restrictions and build public support for their repeal. These organizing efforts are successfully laying the groundwork for public support for an end to these damaging and discriminatory restrictions.
We look forward to continuing this conversation with the new Administration and encourage you to contact us with any questions. In the meantime, we thank you again for your commitment to women’s health and well-being.
National Network of Abortion Funds


Want to find what’s on the CFI/OPP blog? January 8, 2009

Posted by Center for Inquiry Office of Public Policy in Uncategorized.
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If you are using Internet Explorer, in the righthand column of the front page click on Feeds–Full.  You will be able to select by date and title. The posts will be arranged on the left.

Please note: this doesn’t work if you are using Mozilla Firefox. Sorry.

New Feature January 6, 2009

Posted by Center for Inquiry Office of Public Policy in Annoucements.
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Check out our new page “Happening Today”.

Want to live for ever? January 5, 2009

Posted by Center for Inquiry Office of Public Policy in Weekly Update.
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Try religion.

A HHS Healthbeat segment from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services advises “spiritual living.”  A researcher at Yeshiva University looked at eight years of data on 92,000 people in the Women’s Health Initiative database, supported by the National Institutes of Health (that’s the database, not the researcher).

The researcher said: “Those women who said they  attended religious services at least once per week had a 20 percent reduced risk of dying.”

If you want to know more (and who doesn’t want to reduce the risk of dying?), go to http://www.hhs.gov/news/healthbeat/2009/01/20090102a.html.

Toni Van Pelt on radio January 3, 2009

Posted by Center for Inquiry Office of Public Policy in Annoucements, Uncategorized.
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The Office of Public Policy’s director, Toni Van Pelt, can be heard on three radio programs taped during her fall speaking tours of Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. They are:

Friday, October 17, 2008   Toni Van Pelt and the “Dangers of Free-Thinking Women”

Join the People Power Hour Friday as Toni Van Pelt, Vice President of the Center for Inquiry, talks with the gang. Van Pelt was in Central Florida delivering a talk entitled “The Dangers of Free-Thinking Women” in Daytona Beach and UCF Orlando, a look at how women were viewed over the centuries and the role of women in socio-political arenas today.

Youngstown, Ohio,  WYSU radio (88.5 FM).  Sherry Linkon is the host of the program, called Lincoln Avenue.  On the main page of the site, look to the right and click on Toni Van Pelt.

Here’s a link to a third radio talk: http://women-matters.dennisandjane.org/index-12-02-08.html. Toni was a guest on the program Women Matters, broadcast by WSLR 96.5 LPFM in Sarasota Florida.

Praise for Obama’s Science Choices January 3, 2009

Posted by Center for Inquiry Office of Public Policy in Uncategorized.
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The Office of Public Policy was delighted by President-Elect Obama’s choices for the highest level science positions in his administration. Here is the letter the Office of Public Policy, sent to the President-Elect.

Dear President-elect Obama:

The Center for Inquiry/Office of Public Policy, which was created to further the application of science and reasoned dialogue to science-based public policies, commends you on your excellent choices for high-level executive positions in science-based areas. Drs. Steven Chu, John P. Holdren, and Jane Lubchenco will form a powerful team to face the combined challenges of providing adequate energy for the nation and minimizing the clear threat of global warming to the world’s climate.

Dr. Steven Chu, a winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1997, is dedicated to your stated policy of addressing the global warming problem. Dr Chu’s current position as Director of the Berkeley Lawrence National Laboratory, where he supervised eleven other Nobel laureates, has led to an aggressive program to both improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gases. Dr. Chu is the ideal person to counter the questionable arguments of the carefully assembled group of global warming skeptics, a large number of whom are not climate scientists and many of whom exhibit little understanding of the problem.

In his efforts to provide the nation with a sensible program for providing relatively clean energy while reducing carbon dioxide emissions, Dr. Chu will be supported in the Obama administration by an excellent group of experienced professionals. You have selected Harvard physicist John Holdren for the position of presidential science advisor. As chairman of the Board of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences, Holdren in 2007 oversaw the AAAS Board’s first statement on global warming, in which it is recommended that the nation “muster the political will for concerted action.” The science team includes marine biologist Jane Lubchenco to head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Both Holdren and Lubchenco have encouraged scientists to play a more active role in science-related policy discussions. Lubchenco in particular founded the Aldo Leopold Leadership Program to teach scientists how to participate in public policy debates.

We would like to point out that addressing the combined energy-climate change issues will be further advanced by Representative Henry Waxman, designated to become the Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. As current chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Waxman has already established his credentials as a strong supporter of action on global warming by taking to task the Bush administration appointees who tried to muzzle climate scientist James Hansen.

We look forward to active government under this administration, and stand ready to support the kind of strong science-based program we believe your chosen leadership will produce.