Recently Barack Obama did an interview with Katie Couric from NBC news. While chatting about health reform and other things, he made a reference to the precedent of the Hyde Amendment that restricts federal funding for abortions. In this reference he made it sound like he may support a health care bill that has an explicit exclusion of abortion care. Check out more from Feministing here. There’s also some frustrating things coming out of congress for the appropriations bills: crazy amendments proposed at silly hours of the night. Check out RH Reality Check for that.
This article from RH Reality Check outlines the challenges faced by women of low income in the search for abortion – women may not be able to afford it and not eligible for federal or state funds, many insurance companies claim they cover elective abortions, but may not have providers in the region, or women face obstacles like 24 hour waiting periods or parental notification. Despite these obstacles, legislators are talking up their concerns about abortion provision in the health care bills. Give me a break.
Last night there were amendments to the Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 proposed and subsequently shot down by the Energy and Commerce Committee in the House of Representatives. These amendments would have expanded abstinence only education programs among other things. From RH Reality Check:
“By promoting evidence-based teen pregnancy and STI prevention programs, the Committee, under the leadership of Representative Waxman, has taken an important step toward ensuring young people get the critical sexual health information they need to make responsible decisions about their lives.”
This clip is from the State Senate last week – Tom Duane giving a voice to those who often don’t have one. We appreciate his passion and wanted to point out his committment to those struggling with HIV/AIDS and the importance of health care for everyone.
This article from the New York Times gives an updated look into what the White House is saying about abortion coverage in health care plans in reform. Even though federal funds are explicitly excluded from funding non-rape, non-incest abortions for recipients of Medicaid, Republicans are worried about federal funds going toward abortions. This could potentially be the case, if subsidies given by the government to women of low income are used for abortion care.
Some of the quotes from the article are painfully out of date, with quotes from Kathleen Sebelius from April that are actually just wrong. She is quoted in the article as saying that most health insurance plans don’t cover abortion services. This isn’t true, and the Guttmacher Institute has found that about 89% of private insurance plans cover abortion care. Tut, tut, New York Times – shotty reporting.
An article by Kim Custer from themorningcall.com addresses the issue of community health centers, specifically women’s health centers like Planned Parenthood. She says:
“Today, one in four women who receives contraceptive care does so at a women’s health center. One in six who obtains a Pap test or a pelvic exam does so at a women’s health center, as do one-third of women who receive counseling, testing or treatment for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. This basic health care is essential, particularly during difficult economic times, to give women the tools they need to protect and support their families. This is particularly true when you consider that women of childbearing age spend a remarkable 68 percent more in out-of-pocket health care costs than men, in part because of reproductive health-related needs.”
These numbers are too significant to ignore. Community health clinics are vital to the reproductive and sexual health of women.
The Ways and Means Committee, one of the three committees in the House of Representatives working toward a health reform bill, has passed their version of the legislation. This comes after a few days of mark-up that featured the successful defeat of abortion-restricting amendments. Representatives Sam Johnson (R-TX) and Eric Cantor (R-VA) among others made attempts at restricting abortion coverage in the essential benefits package, meaning that basic health care plans would not include abortion. Also, the House Education and Labor Committee has passed their version of the bill. That means that we are passed the point the Clinton administration was fifteen years ago – this very well may happen!! (Also check out this article by Nancy Keenan about the Senate HELP Committee and the success they had in passing their version.)
In other good news, Washington DC is now able to use money to subsidize/fund abortions for women. Though this doesn’t apply to federal funds, it does allow the District to use locally-collected revenue for women in need. Though this passed, it is scary to see some of the opposition and the claims that they make.
The issue of abortion in health care reform is getting a lot of attention right now in Washington. Check out the following articles for more information:
The American Prospect talks about conservatives and NARAL.
A piece from Dana Goldstein about the GOP and abortion.
Yesterday in the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee a variety of anti-choice anti-women’s health amendments were defeated. There were amendments proposed that would (if passed) restrict women’s access to health care through parental notification, prohibiting abortion coverage in private plans included in the exchange, and by expanding provider refusal clauses. Read more from RH Reality Check.
An article from The American Prospect from a few days ago addressed the inequities in continuous health care coverage for women. Since women have fewer opportunities for employer-provided health insurance, straight women often depend on their partner’s health insurance to cover them. This makes women much more vulnerable to losing their health insurance due to relationship or family issues that disrupt the relationship that provides them coverage. Dana Goldstein makes the case in this article that “[women who experienced health disruptions] had a greater probability of experiencing a change in usual clinic/provider (71 percent), delaying filling or taking fewer medications than prescribed because of the cost (75 percent), going to the emergency room (52 percent), and had lower average mental health scores than women who did not experience an insurance disruption.”
This highlights the importance of providing women with health insurance that they choose, on their terms, and controlled by them. Women need self-determinations in all areas of life, and health insurance is an important piece of the puzzle.