Lately, politicians and policy makers have been continuously discussing the importance of the women’s economic agenda. This is a good thing because even though women earn most of the college and advanced degrees in this country, and are two thirds of their family’s breadwinners, forty-two million women, and the 28 million children who depend on them, are living paycheck to paycheck, one disaster away from economic ruin. Paid sick days, paid parental leave, and raising the minimum wage are among some of the important policy changes being discussed, but not access to reproductive health care, a crucial component to women’s economic success in the U.S.
Today is the 39th anniversary of the Hyde Amendment. Every year since 1976, Congress has passed the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal coverage of abortion for women enrolled in Medicaid. Over 60 percent of women who obtain abortions have incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty line, meaning many of those 42 million women living paycheck to paycheck.
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Last week, Pope Francis descended on our nation’s capital in his first major visit to the United States, and anticipation was high for the man who has already set himself apart as a different kind of pope. Coming from church service in South America, Pope Francis is an academically-trained scientist who picked his papal name to honor St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of the poor, and has made headlines around the world by focusing on the plight of low-income people. This commitment to economic justice has been admirable in its boldness and thoughtful in making connections between faith, economic inequality, and issues like immigration policy and even climate change.
Religious scholars call the particular Christian values that Pope Francis and those like him extol liberation theology: “an interpretation of Christian faith out of the experience of the poor … an attempt to read the Bible and key Christian doctrines with the eyes of the poor.” Placing himself firmly in this tradition, when it comes to the complexities that drive economic security around the world, the pope seems to get it. Unfortunately, that compassionate, complex, committed view of economics and wellbeing falls apart when it comes to reproductive health.
To read more please go to American Prospect online.