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Sunday News Round-Up, Attacks on Reproductive Rights Edition

February 13, 2011

Three things this week that I think are important to focus on for advocates of reproductive rights and justice: HR3, HR358, and proposed cuts to Title X family planning funding and other women’s health services. I wrote about HR3 and HR358 at Our Bodies Our Blog this week. There, I note that I particularly appreciated the succinct explanations provided by Jennifer Steinhauer in the New York Times, excerpted below.

1) On HR3:

One bill, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” would eliminate tax breaks for private employers who provide health coverage if their plans offer abortion services, and would forbid women who use a flexible spending plan to use pre-tax dollars for abortions. Those restrictions would go well beyond current law prohibiting the use of federal money for abortion services.

The Hyde Act already forbids taxpayer funding for abortion except for in limited circumstances (often rape or incest; this is the bill that had/has the “forcible” rape language). This law would make that permanent, and would perpetuate the injustices of Hyde, which specifically makes it harder for poor women and women of color to exercise this right.

As so clearly expressed alongside a recent report on the issue:

As long as these unjust provisions remain a part of our laws, the rights of women in this country will continue to be treated according to two different standards whether you can afford to pay for your rights or not. That is not equality.

Hyde currently has to be renewed on a regular basis. HR3 would make these inequalities permanent, in addition to potentially affecting issues such as whether employers who provide abortion coverage through their health insurance plans would be financially penalized through the loss of tax breaks.

Related Posts:
Meet the HR3 Ten – RHRC is calling attention to Democrats who cosponsored HR3
Kudos to Senators Gillibrand, Boxer, Franken, Murray, Lautenberg, Blumenthal speak out against HR3 (silver ribbon blog)
House Committees Press On with “Stupak on Steroids” Attacks on Women’s Health (Blog for Choice)
The “Stupak on Steroids” Agenda: A Multi-Pronged Attack (Blog for Choice)
Hr3/Smith Bill Toolkit for Action (National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health)

2) On HR 358:

Another bill, sponsored by Mr. Pitts, addresses the health care overhaul head-on by prohibiting Americans who receive insurance through state exchanges from purchasing abortion coverage, even with their own money. The bill is essentially a resurrection of a provision in the House version of the health care law but was not in the Senate version.

The bill would also permit hospitals to refuse abortions to women, even in emergency situations, if such care would offend the conscience of the health care providers.

The thinking about this bill is that it would effectively override EMTALA provisions that require emergency departments to treat patients regardless of ability to pay. Existing rules already protect the right of individual providers to choose not to perform abortions, but EMTALA requires that if the patient can’t be safely stabilized and transferred (in other words, if the patient might die if the procedure is not performed), an emergency department *must* provide that care.

Related Posts:
Waxman and Pallone Ask “Where’s the Constitutional Authority” on H.R. 358? (RHRC)
After ‘forcible rape,’ another abortion restriction (PostPartisan)
Anti-Choice Politicians Propose Eliminating Funding for Birth Control and Cancer Screenings (Blog for Choice)
PRCH Board Chair Submits Testimony on Pitts and Smith Bills (Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health, on both bills)

3) A third item of concern is the Continuing Resolution from the House Appropriations Committee for funding throughout the fiscal year which proposes to completely eliminate the funding the President has requested for family planning services. The CR proposes a number of reductions, including the following decreases in women’s and reproductive health:

  • WIC -$758M
  • Community Health Centers -$1.3B
  • Maternal and Child Health Block Grants -$210M
  • Family Planning -$327M

That $327 million reduction proposed for family planning is the *entire requested family planning budget* from the President, who requested:

$327,356,000 shall be for the program under title X of the PHS Act to provide for voluntary family planning projects: Provided further, That amounts provided to said projects under such title shall not be expended for abortions, that all pregnancy counseling shall be nondirective…

This move is intended in part to achieve the Republican wet dream of “defunding Planned Parenthood.” So not only are they attempting to block women from accessing necessary and legal abortion procedures through HR 3 and HR 358, they are attempting to block women’s access to the kind of medical care and contraception that would help them prevent pregnancy and achieve healthy pregnancies. Awesome.

Related Posts:
House GOP Declares War on Planned Parenthood (Mother Jones)
GOP Spending Plan: X-ing Out Title X Family Planning Funds (Wall Street Journal blog)
Congress’s Latest Fiscal Strategy: Cutting Programs that Save Money and Protect Women’s Health (National Women’s Law Center)

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 15, 2011 3:55 pm

    Have you heard about that business over in South Dakota? Southern Beale had a post on it today.

    • February 16, 2011 8:57 am

      I just heard about it yesterday; it’s appalling. I think tonight I might do a post just on it, or about this and other crazy crap in state legislatures.

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