The ACA Ruling: Let's Remember That Health Care is a Human Right
Posted on: Friday, June 29, 2012
Keywords: Women's Health
This post originally appeared on RHRealityCheck.
Yesterday, the United States Supreme Court announced its ruling on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Now widely known as "Obamacare," the act was signed into law two years ago, expanding health care coverage for millions of previously uninsured people. The Court has ruled that the central provision under examination – the individual mandate, or the requirement that individuals purchase health insurance – is, in fact, constitutional.
While the court has upheld the right of millions of young people in the US to be covered under their parents’ insurance, and the right of millions more with pre-existing conditions to be covered in the event of illness, it has weakened the Medicaid provision which would have expanded coverage to approximately 26 million people living at or below the poverty line.
In the hurry by news organizations to cover the decision yesterday, this may all seem like political theater. But the US has a clear and crucial responsibility under international law to guarantee its peoples’ right to health and health care.
Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone has the right to a healthy life, including access to food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services; the United Nations adopted these principles in 1948.
The US has also signed international laws and treaties guaranteeing more specific rights to our most vulnerable citizens. The US signed the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, in 1980, which includes Articles 12 and 14 upholding women’s right to health care services. At a time when health care services specifically for women are under unprecedented assault at the state level and women’s health care providers are being threatened and harassed, it seems impossible that we could ever have been even that committed to ensuring women’s access to comprehensive health and reproductive care.
In 1995, the US signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which asserts in Article 24 that every child have access to the highest attainable standard of health and for “States Parties [to] strive to ensure that no child is deprived of his or her right of access to such health care services.” Our government’s ongoing fights over funding health care for economically disadvantaged children through the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) are just another example of the many ways in which our human right to a healthy life continues to be used as a political volleyball.
These treaties reveal a longstanding global recognition of the human right to health. We must evaluate the Supreme Court’s ruling in light of this significant body of international law; an important step forward, but only one step on a long journey towards full human rights for all.
For information about MADRE's international work for health as a human right, click here.
Archives"Press Room" Home September 2014 August 2014 July 2014 June 2014 May 2014 April 2014 March 2014 February 2014 January 2014 December 2013 November 2013 October 2013 September 2013 August 2013 July 2013 June 2013 May 2013 April 2013 March 2013 February 2013 January 2013 December 2012 November 2012 October 2012 September 2012 August 2012 July 2012 June 2012 May 2012 April 2012 March 2012 February 2012 January 2012 December 2011 November 2011 October 2011 September 2011 August 2011 July 2011 June 2011 May 2011 April 2011 March 2011 February 2011 January 2011 December 2010 November 2010 October 2010 September 2010 August 2010 July 2010 June 2010 May 2010 April 2010 March 2010 February 2010 January 2010 December 2009 November 2009 October 2009 September 2009 August 2009 July 2009 June 2009 May 2009 April 2009 March 2009 February 2009 January 2009 December 2008 November 2008 October 2008 September 2008 August 2008 July 2008 June 2008 May 2008 April 2008 March 2008 February 2008 January 2008 December 2007 November 2007 October 2007 September 2007 August 2007 June 2007 May 2007 April 2007 March 2007 February 2007 January 2007 December 2006 November 2006 October 2006 September 2006 July 2006 June 2006 April 2006 March 2006 January 2006 December 2005 November 2005 September 2005 August 2005 July 2005 April 2005 March 2005 November 2004 October 2004 April 2004 March 2004 January 2004 December 2003 October 2003 September 2003 June 2003 April 2003 January 2003 September 2002 June 2002 January 2002 November 2001 October 2001 September 2001 August 2001 January 2001
MADRE & Our Partners Make News
Peru TV slammed by UN as racial stereotypes paraded for cheap laughs (The Guardian, September 3, 2014)
In Iraq, women 'are the battlefield' (Women Under Siege , August 12, 2014)
Haitian woman faces death threats for speaking out about violence against women (WBEZ Worldview, July 16, 2014)
Media Spotlight Turns Away from Iraq, as Concerns Mount Over Human Rights and Political Stalemate (Uprising Radio, July 11, 2014)
Iraq: The women left behind (Aljazeera, July 3, 2014)