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Contact Your Senators About Amendments to Omnibus Spending Bill

March 5, 2009

Yesterday I received this email from an acquaintance* regarding proposed amendments to the Senate’s appropriations bill that have a direct impact on access to health care, particularly reproductive health care. This message summed up the situation so well, I asked for permission to simply repost here (with emphasis added):

Hey family and friends,

In the last two days, two federal amendments have been proposed that would have a serious negative impact on reproductive choice and access to reproductive health care services. I don’t do this very often, but I’m writing to ask you to send a couple emails or make a couple phone calls to let your Senators know these amendments are trash.

Yesterday, Senator David Vitter (R-LA) proposed an amendment to de-fund Planned Parenthood, by specifically denying Title X (ten) funding to PP. Title X funding is used for things like STI screening & treatment, HIV screening, Pap tests, cancer screenings, breast exams and counseling on contraceptive options. It’s not used to provide abortions. By law, the funds cannot be used for abortion services. Vitter’s amendment is #601 and is attached to the Appropriations bill currently being debated in the Senate.

Today, Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) put forth an amendment to strip affordable birth control from the Appropriations bill. He’s calling it an “earmark” directly supporting the efforts of Planned Parenthood, which is completely FALSE. DeMint is attacking a no-cost provision that is simply a technical correction allowing pharmaceutical companies to offer low-cost contraception to college and university health clinics and family planning health centers.

The backstory is this: In 2007, someone made a mistake in federal legislation that caused the price of birth control to increase by up to 900 percent for low-income women and college students. Since then, we have been working to restore affordable birth control. PP’s no-cost fix to this problem has passed in the House, and it’s strongly supported by President Obama — but DeMint and his buddies are making one last effort to derail the affordable birth control fix. DeMint’s amendment is #649.

Please let your Senators in Washington, DC know that you don’t support these amendments and they shouldn’t, either! Give ’em a call or email. You can find your their contact info here:

Thanks so much,

I sent my Senators a message noting that in these iffy economic times, access to these health care services is even harder to come by than usual for many people, and these amendments only add to those difficulties. I doubt it will do any good with mine, but maybe yours are more interested in health care than political points. Planned Parenthood has more on the birth control pricing issue here.

*Faye Ziegeweid, who is a Planned Parenthood staffer, which I’m telling you for full disclosure reasons. I think she’s right, of course, regardless of her affiliation.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 5, 2009 4:44 pm

    A little more on the “affordable birth control” provision: pharmaceutical companies want to give discounts to college students to build product loyalty. They only discount highly profitable items like the pill, not all contraceptives as the email implies.

    Currently, however, if the companies give discounts to college students, they have to give the same discount to Medicaid. They can give discounts to federally funded family planning clinics while still charging much higher prices to Medicaid: this includes 75% of Planned Parenthood clinics. Also note that generics are sold at some pharmacies (such as Wal-Mart) for $4 a month. Low-cost hormonal birth control is still available.

    I think the pill is a good contraceptive option to have, but IMO it is over-hyped. Marketing to college students with teaser discounts – that expire when they graduate – I’m not thrilled about. And, more college students relying on condoms for birth control has the potentially large benefit of reducing the transmission of STDs.

    (The information in this comment came from this article and the comments that followed it.)

    I will write my senators opposing the Vitter amendment. Thanks for bringing attention to these issues.

  2. March 5, 2009 5:32 pm

    Thanks for your comment and that info, Lyrl.


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