Dear Member of Congress:
As the State Children’s Health Insurance Program reauthorization proceeds, Feminists for Life (FFL) believes that no woman and her unborn child should be denied essential health care simply because she is pregnant and poor.
FFL has long advocated a SCHIP program that includes prenatal care. The change in regulation issued by former Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson in 2002 to cover the unborn child and the mother was a quicker, more comprehensive means to that end.
As you know, that regulation allowed states to expand prenatal care and labor and delivery services for women who are uninsured but not eligible for Medicaid. This change to SCHIP enabled states to provide for the health needs of millions of pregnant women who might otherwise not receive care.
Prior to this regulation change, SCHIP allowed states to provide health care coverage to targeted low-income children from birth to age 19. With the change, states could provide coverage for children starting from conception.
This is consistent with the policies of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which states that the "physical and psychosocial growth, development, and health of the individual begins prior to birth when conception is apparent and continues throughout infancy, childhood, adolescence and early adulthood... The responsibility of pediatrics may therefore begin with the fetus and continue through 21 years of age."
The expanded SCHIP gave many women who are not eligible for Medicaid the resources to deliver healthy children. Equally important, pregnant women at risk of complications would receive the medical treatment they need and deserve.
We urge Congress to continue or even expand coverage for this at-risk population - both women and their unborn children. Healthy women giving birth to healthy babies is a top priority. Thank you.
Because women deserve better,
Serrin M. Foster