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Yellowhammer Fund, West Alabama Women’s Center release priorities for legislative session

Medicaid expansion, free menstrual products in school and greater expansion of voting rights are among the legislative agenda items.

The Alabama Statehouse in Montgomery.

The Tuscaloosa-based Yellowhammer Fund is demanding a greater focus on the expansion of Medicaid, among other items, in an announcement of their legislative priorities for the 2021 Session.

In conjunction with West Alabama Women’s Center, which is also located in Tuscaloosa, Medicaid expansion, free menstrual products in school and greater expansion of voting rights are among the legislative agenda items both Yellowhammer Fund and WAWC will be pushing throughout the new session. 

“This year, we have determined that bodily autonomy is not enough,” said Yellowhammer Fund executive director Laurie Bertram Roberts in an announcement Monday. “We must do more than just advocate for the  physical well-being of those in marginalized communities, we must also push our political leaders to ensure that all people are able to easily practice their constitutional right to participate in our government by voting in each election.”

When the legislative session adjourned sine die in May due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Medicaid expansion was one item unable to pass through the state Legislature, leaving thousands of Alabamians who lost their jobs due to the COVID pandemic unable to afford insurance, according to the Fund’s announcement. 

“The Alabama legislature’s refusal to expand Medicaid was cruel from the onset,” said Mia Raven, director of policy for the West Alabama Women’s Center. “But to continue to leave Alabamians out to dry with no insurance options – during a public health crisis and an economic one – is unfathomable. Our state cannot continue to reject this option when there is assistance available for those who so desperately need it right now.”

While Medicaid expansion remains “the biggest agenda item for Yellowhammer Fund and WAWC,” according to the release, the passage of House Bill 36, a bill that would end the shackling of pregnant prisoners in Alabama prisons during labor, House Bill 88, which would mandate free menstrual products be provided in school restrooms remain high priorities for the organization. 

On the inverse, the Fund strongly opposes House Bill 1, a bill that would prohibit hormonal therapies for gender non-conforming minors in Alabama. 

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“We had hoped that with so much real work to be done and with so many crises currently facing our state, lawmakers wouldn’t feel the need to prioritize legislation that seeks to undermine families and attack children from marginalized communities,” said Raven. “Trans children already face a hostile environment that harms their physical and mental well-being. It is not the legislature’s job to increase those challenges by criminalizing medical care that their families and doctors believe is in their best interests.”

Likewise, the Fund and WAWC strongly condemn House Bill 133, a bill that would add a litany of new criminal codes relating to rioting, assault on first responders and damaging public monuments to Alabama penal code. The Fund described HB133 as “a serious threat to the rights of Alabamians to publicly protest,” in their announcement Monday. 

“HB133 goes against the very fabric of what our country was built on – the ability to stand up to those in power,” said Mia Raven. “If this sort of bill existed during the 1770’s, most of our Founding Fathers would have been incarcerated and ineligible for office. You can’t get more anti-American than imprisoning and stripping people of their right to vote or run for office because of dissent, and this bill is so full of vague generalities it could apply to almost any form of protest.”

John is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can contact him at [email protected] or via Twitter.

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