Friday, February 17, 2012
Poster of the Week
Warning: The Catholic Church Is Making Your Healthcare Decisions
Robbie Conal and Deborah Ross
Alan Shaffer: Photography
Anne Kelly: Designed back of poster
Los Angeles, California
CSPG’s Poster of the Week was produced ten years ago by the California Women’s Law Center to oppose the dramatic decline in access to reproductive healthcare in California resulting from the take-over of hospitals by Catholic institutions. In the 1990s, hospital mergers increased in California, and many formerly secular hospitals came under the control of Catholic Healthcare West and others health care institutions opposed to a woman’s right to choose. But the poster was never distributed. After 5,000 were printed, the California Women’s Law Center decided not to distribute them as they were concerned about potential backlash. So women in California—and elsewhere—were not only increasingly denied access to reproductive healthcare including contraception and safe abortions, but a poster informing them of their eroding rights and who to contact was censored.
Robbie Conal and Deborah Ross came up with the idea of a woman being crucified, draped over the Caduceus, the ancient and universal symbol of medicine consisting of the winged staff of Mercury and two intertwining serpents. The Caduceus, medical symbol for health care since Ancient Greek times, was used as it partially resembles a cross and it also represents the care that women should receive at Catholic (or any) hospitals.
This ten year old poster could have been made this week in response to the debate around insurance coverage for women’s health. On February 16, 2012, House Republicans convened an all male Congressional panel to justify denying access to birth control coverage. The five men refused to allow even one woman to testify at the House Oversight Committee hearing. This continues the controversy over the Obama administration's proposed compromise to require most employers to fully cover contraception in their workers' health plans.
This debate is, of course, not new. In 2001, President George W. Bush, as one of his first acts in office, prohibited any organization receiving funds from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) from using those or other funds to provide or promote abortion. Abortion could not even be discussed as an option. This global gag rule led to closed clinics, cuts in healthcare staff, dwindling medical supplies, and shortages in contraceptives, leaving women, children and families without access to vital healthcare services. By 2002, the gag rule had cut off shipments of USAID-donated supplies to 16 developing countries, because the only recipients in those countries were members of the International Planned Parenthood Federation which lost $20 million in USAID funds because it refused to comply with the policy.
And this reminds us of the recent controversy when Susan G. Komen for the Cure withdrew support for Planned Parenthood, until public outcry forced Komen to reinstate their funding.
The more things change…
And in this ongoing debate, it is important to remember that abortion has been legal in the U.S. since 1973, but access continues to be eroded.
Here are some petitions to sign to express your concern and outrage about the current Congressional debate that is excluding women: