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"Die-In" for healthcare rights at the Embarcadero in San Francisco.
A “die-in” was held on Saturday, December 5 at the Ferry Building open market on the Embarcadero in San Francisco. The die-in highlighted all the people who die prematurely and needlessly because of structural deficiencies in our health care system. Activist organizations involved included the Bay Area Coalition For Our Reproductive Rights (BACORR), Radical Women, World Can’t Wait, Code Pink Women for Peace, Single Payer Now, Billionaires For Health Care, and the Brass Liberation Orchestra. Hear audio from the event. (18:27)
Activists advanced the need for a Single Payer system, which works much more effectively and affordably for all citizens in the other industrialized nations, instead of the current ill-conceived Congressional financing reform being negotiated, along with defeat of the Stupak Amendment or anything like it that puts further restrictions on abortions. The event is part of a coordinated campaign for a January 23, 2010 counter-demonstration to the 6th Annual church-based anti-abortion Walk for Life march and protest at the Embarcadero. Walk For Life is a large, national, well-funded movement advocating the complete outlawing of legal abortion in the United States.
Activists marched around the indoor and outdoor produce, consumer goods, and cooked food markets, in a quiet and solemn procession, to an eerie type of funeral music by the Brass Liberation Orchestra, carrying signs highlighting common reasons why people die due to lack of appropriate and timely health care. At intervals, the marchers stopped and fell to the ground, staging a mock die-in. The action was powerful, with numerous people - especially women - shopping or dining, shouting out, cheering and talking excitedly to activists in support of abortion and full healthcare rights. At one point, security guards actually locked all the doors of the commercial market, less the orderly activists go back in and maybe invade the coffee or wine bars wit this message.
Abortion rights were highlighted as one of the treatment categories in which women needlessly die when not offered under safe, affordable, and accessible conditions. The Stupak-Pitts Amendment - just defeated this week in the Senate - is criticized as a cynical attempt to extend prohibitions of public funding for abortion in the existing Hyde Amendment to include private insurance company plans by prohibiting the companies to provide abortion in any plan which is subsidized by the Federal Government. Hopefully, anti-abortion Congresspeople will not find a way to revive it.
This law if implemented would require insurance companies to offer two types of plans if they want to cover abortion at all for anyone. Currently, plans that cover abortion are sold at practically the same price as other plans, showing that the cost of covering this procedure is nominal. So it would mandate and/or allow insurers who do offer it to do so at an inflated price, while driving up the cost by requiring even more administrative costs for the insurer. Some activists believe it would either restrict or induce companies not to cover the procedure at all for anyone.
Anti-abortion Congresspeople have described a scenario in which abortion could be offered for a price as an add-on to existing policies. If so, this is discriminatory because abortion would be the only medical procedure singled out in this manner. Reproductive rights activists describe this as unrealistic if the cost is significant, because women as individuals cannot predict or plan ahead for an abortion, since nobody can predict in advance whether or not they will be in a position to have to make such a decision.
Abortion activists would like to see the opposite, to have the Hyde Amendment repealed so that everyone insured can have abortion coverage. The restrictions in this amendment, in which low-income and disabled women on Medicaid and Medicare cannot have an abortion paid for, while working women with employment-based policies and women who afford the high-priced individualized, market-based policies do get the procedure covered.