January 19-26 Weekly News Round Up

A round up of current news stories on the state and national level, with a focus on feminist issues

By Tess Koenigsmark

Health insurance coverage may be the next big abortion battle. Many states are passing legislation prohibiting private insurance plans sold through the healthcare exchanges from providing abortion coverage. This will primarily affect low-income women, since the exchanges are meant to help those who couldn’t previously afford insurance. The tactic of restricting abortion access by targeting poor women is far from new. In 1976, the Hyde Amendment made it illegal for any federal money to fund abortion, denying abortion coverage to women on Medicaid.

A great article on why Connecticut needs to be vigilant about protecting reproductive rights, and finally pass some pro-choice legislation.

President Obama has announced the creation of a federal task force to address sexual assault on college campuses. The task force will make recommendations about how the federal government can better track how colleges handle sexual assaults, and how to discipline colleges that fail to do so properly. There are some pretty wonderful quotes from Obama’s announcement, including, “I want every young man in America to feel some strong peer pressure in terms of how they are supposed to behave and treat women… We need to keep teaching young men to show women the respect they deserve, to recognize sexual violence and be outraged by it.” It’s refreshing to see a denouncement of sexual assault that’s followed by something more substantial than, “Walk in groups at night, ladies.”

Shortly before President Obama’s announcement of the new task force, the White House Council on Women and Girls released a report showing that nearly 1 in 5 college women have been the victims of rape or attempted rape.

A recent U.S. Senate hearing focused on health insurance company UnitedHealthcare’s decision to eliminate a large number of Connecticut doctors from its Medicare Advantage network. Currently, a court injunction against UnitedHealthcare that was sought by several CT medical associations is still in place, preventing the company from dropping the doctors. Many argue that the elimination of such a large number of practicioners would disrupt care for patients, particularly those who are unable to travel.

Governor Malloy has revealed that his budget package will include an additional $7.2 million for mental health services. The money will go toward increased rent assistance, services for young adults and vulnerable populations, a media campaign to reduce stigma, and crisis intervention training for police officers. It’s about time that mental health care became a priority.

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