Gloria Kaufman Memorial Lecture: The Future of Reproductive Freedom for Indiana Women

Posted on October 27, 2011 by

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No woman can call herself free who does not own and control her own body. – Margaret Sanger

As I began writing this blog, I was trying to think of a strategic way to introduce this issue. Finally, I realized that is the issue. In American culture, it is unfortunately taboo to talk about matters surrounding women and their reproductive rights. Engaging in the discussion about these rights should not be challenging. It is crucial to have these conversations because everyone, men and women, are affected directly or indirectly.

Here’s a rough breakdown to catch you up on the fierce legal dispute between the State of Indiana and Planned Parenthood of Indiana (PPIN) without getting too deep in legal mumbo-jumbo. In May, Governor Mitch Daniels signed a federal law (HEA1210) that bans Medicaid funds from covering abortions—or at least those were his intentions. What really happened was he cut off funds that provided over 9,300 Hoosiers general health care services that included cancer screenings, STD testing, and other services provided by PPIN. Indiana is the first state to deny Medicaid funds to provide services making it ground-zero on this very political issue.

Shortly after this law was signed into action the ACLU of Indiana , representing PPIN, issued a preliminary injunction which deemed the law ineffective until further review from the Court of Appeals. Currently, PPIN is fighting this case in court and is sustaining proof that the funds received by Medicaid are not being used for abortions. Instead, the slashed funding is simply cutting off health care services to Hoosiers. The State of Indiana has also proposed splitting up the services PPIN offers to ensure that taxpayers do not indirectly fund abortion procedures. Planned Parenthood chapters in Missouri and Texas have already done this but were inherently targeted by efforts to cut their funding for non-abortion services. Today, the struggle continues in court and is becoming a topic of fashion in the most recent presidential debates. This may be a trending topic for politicians, but a serious threat to the freedom of reproductive rights for all Americans remains.

On November 9th, IUSB Women’s and Gender Studies’ Gloria Kaufman Memorial Lecturer is Betty Cockrum. Cockrum is the President and CEO of PPIN and leads the battle for the reproductive freedom of Hoosier women. Constantly debating this issue, Cockrum continuously makes valid arguments in favor of Planned Parenthood’s stance. Here’s a lengthy quote that sums up the PPIN standoff with the State of Indiana:

“Despite what others would lead you to believe, this remains a battle where the biggest loser is the state of Indiana’s overall health,” Cockrum said.  “We’re fighting for our patients – many of whom are unemployed, underinsured or living in poverty – and their access to preventive care such as lifesaving Pap tests, breast cancer screenings, birth control and STD testing and treatment. Simply put, taking away our Medicaid funding means taking away lifesaving health care from 9,300 Hoosiers.  Not a penny of the federal funding we receive goes toward abortion,” Cockrum added.  “We remain confident we have a solid case, one that clearly shows how the state violated both the U.S. Constitution and federal law.  We look forward to proving it once again in the Court of Appeals.”

Agreed. Not only is the law unconstitutional, we need to preserve these funds for quality care and women’s reproductive health. If abortion procedures are not being done properly at clinics like PPIN, then they will get them elsewhere. These procedures must be done by professionals or serious injury or death may occur for the mother. As taxpayers, we need to ask ourselves who is at stake and for whom? Who benefits and who loses? Who owns my body?

The Kaufman Memorial Lecture is held at 6:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time in room 1001 in Wiekamp Hall. Following the lecture from Cockrum, a question and answer session will give the audience an opportunity to ask questions. Asking questions is how these problems begin to get solved. If you cannot attend the lecture due to a prior commitment, please visit Planned Parenthood’s website which offers an abundance of information, knowledge, and current news involving the appeal of HEA 1210.

As I work on my minor in Women and Gender Studies here at IUSB, I am honored to have the opportunity to meet Betty Cockrum. I am sincerely looking forward to the lecture and encourage absolutely everyone to participate because no matter which side you stand on, it is virtuous to continue the conversation of women’s reproductive freedom.

Contact Dr. Catherine Borshuk at cborshuk@iusb.edu for more information regarding IUSB’s Women’s and Gender Studies program or questions concerning the Kaufman Memorial Lecture.

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