for Health Coverage of Women and Unborn Children
Feminists for Life President
Serrin Foster is celebrating a significant change in regulation that will
benefit both uninsured women and their unborn children.
HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson
issued a new regulation allowing states to expand prenatal care and labor
and delivery services for women who are uninsured but not eligible for
Medicaid. An estimated 10.9 million women of childbearing age do not have
health insurance. This change to the State Childrens Health Insurance
Program (SCHIP) will enable states to provide for the health needs of
pregnant women who might otherwise not receive care.
It is well documented
that prenatal care can improve health outcomes for both mothers and children.
Yet the United States has high rates of infant mortality, premature delivery
and low birth weight compared to other developed countries, said
Foster. Most uninsured American women lack access to prenatal health
care because they cannot afford the out-of-pocket expenses.
Feminists for Life (FFL) believes
that no woman should be denied essential health care simply because she
is pregnant and poor. FFL has long advocated replicating New York States
implementation of SCHIP, which includes prenatal care. The proposed change
by HHS is a quicker, more comprehensive means to that end.
Until now, 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 would give
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.
While we congratulate
Sec. Thompson for refusing to choose between women and children, families
and friends will soon be able to congratulate new parents when healthy
babies are born to healthy mothers, said Foster.
For more information on Feminists
for Life, go to www.feministsforlife.org.