VIDEO: Calling for Health Care Relief at White House Health Care Summit

Emily Douglas

The White House Health Care Summit is underway, and everyone who's anyone is there, including Cecile Richards.

The White House Health Care Summit is underway, and everyone who’s anyone is there.  At least according to Ezra Klein‘s
source: "Yesterday, I asked a prominent health care operative about the
Summit.

President Obama’s opening remarks at the White House Health Summit

‘What I’ve heard in my world,’ he said, ‘is everyone wants to
be there
and needs to be there and thinks it’ll be terrible if they’re not
there.’"  That means that the Catholic Health Association, representing
Catholic hospitals that refuse to provide comprehensive reproductive
health care services, is at the table, as is Planned Parenthood’s
Cecile Richards.  In his opening remarks, President Obama made it clear
that "every option should be on the table," but also cautioned
attendees, "Each of us must accept that none of us will get everything
we want." 

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Obama placed the mandate for health care reform squarely at the feet of
the crumbling economy.  Calling the exploding costs, for individuals,
businesses and the government, the "biggest threat to our balance
sheet," Obama said health care costs threaten the "very foundation of
our economy." 

Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood speaks at the White House Health Summit.

He reiterated frightening statistics he cited in the
Address to Congress: premiums have grown four times faster than wages. 
An American goes bankrupt because of medical debt every 30 seconds. 
And he pointed out that even people with good health insurance are
vulnerable — a "stroke of bad luck," a job loss or a divorce, could
easily put them at risk for losing insurance.

When Cecile Richards spoke, she pointed out that the only contact many
low-income women Planned Parenthood serves have with health care
providers is through family planning clinics.

News Law and Policy

Outside White House Women’s Summit, Activists Demand Executive Action on Abortion Law

Christine Grimaldi

The Center for Health and Gender Equity, Amnesty International USA, Reproaction, and Catholics for Choice organized what they described as a “call to action” rather than a protest of the summit.

Reproductive health-care activists urged President Barack Obama to take executive action on the Helms Amendment early Tuesday morning during a demonstration outside the White House’s United State of Women Summit.

The two-day summit includes a variety of sessions across downtown Washington, D.C., around six main themes: economic empowerment; health and wellness; educational opportunity; violence against women; entrepreneurship and innovation; and leadership and civic engagement. However, none of the themes include abortion care. Even the description for the summit’s focus on health and wellness merely touts the Affordable Care Act’s coverage of preventive services, such as U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptive coverage under the birth control benefit, and touches on maternal mortality and HIV prevention only as issues of global concern.

The word “abortion,” as Rewire previously reported, is nowhere to be found in any of the summit’s materials.

Some two dozen-plus activists gathered across from the Walter E. Washington Convention Center to press for action on an obstruction to reproductive health care globally: the Helms Amendment. The federal statute prohibits U.S. foreign assistance funds from paying for abortion care “as a method of family planning.” In theory, the Helms Amendment makes exceptions in cases of rape, incest, and life endangerment; in practice, the Obama administration has failed to enforce these guarantees, amounting to a total ban on foreign assistance for abortion care. The activists are asking the president to clarify those exceptions through executive action.

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The Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE), Amnesty International USA, Reproaction, and Catholics for Choice organized what they described as a “call to action” rather than a protest of the summit. Several of the groups paid for a full-page ad in the Washington Post that appealed directly to Obama “on this historic day for women.”

“We know you can lead on abortion,” the ad said. “We know you can stand with women and girls raped in conflict. We pledge to stand by you when you do. What are you waiting for?”

Organizers mounted the campaign to pressure the White House in this way based on prior victories. Erin Matson, co-founder and co-director of Reproaction, attributed presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s and rival candidate Sen Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) public embrace of repealing Helms and other pro-choice policy objectives to the tenaciousness of activists. The more mainstream party establishment, Matson said, would have preferred for activists to hold out for a “better time.”

“There’s never going to be a better time to do the right thing,” she said.

Imagine telling somebody who became pregnant “as a result of rape and war” to wait for a future administration, Matson said. In Nigeria, more than 200 women and girls freed in 2015 from Boko Haram insurgents were visibly pregnant upon their rescue. Last year, religious leaders and congressional Democrats urged Obama to fund abortions for the stated Helms exceptions. In Daesh strongholds, the terrorist group has enshrined a “theology of rape,” according to an extensive New York Times report.

“There’s really no excuse not to act now,” Matson said.

Another imperative: Policy changes don’t happen instantaneously. Should the Obama White House act in the remaining days of the administration, another Democrat in the White House would be able to assume the mantle of implementation at the outset of the presidency, said Joanna Kuebler, CHANGE’s director of external affairs.

“We fully support the summit, but you can’t take a victory lap on your women’s rights record without standing with women raped in conflict,” Kuebler said.

Roundups Politics

Campaign Week in Review: Clinton’s ‘Military Families Agenda’ Includes Calls for Family Leave, Child Care

Ally Boguhn

As part of her plan, Clinton would move to “ensure that family leave policies meet the needs of our military families so that, for example, new parents, as practical and consistent with mission, can care for their families at a pivotal moment.”

This week on the campaign trail, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton released her agenda for helping military families, and anti-choice voters remain ambiguous about Donald Trump’s positions on abortion.

Clinton Releases Plan to Expand Family Leave and Access to Child Care for Military Families

Clinton released her “Military Families Agenda” on Tuesday, detailing the former secretary of state’s plan, if elected, to support military personnel and their families.

“Military families, who serve alongside our service members, are vital to the strength of our military and the health of our nation,” reads Clinton’s plan. “Ensuring our military families have the support they need to balance service to the nation with the demands of family life helps our nation attract and retain the most talented service members.”

As part of her plan, Clinton would move to “ensure that family leave policies meet the needs of our military families so that, for example, new parents, as practical and consistent with mission, can care for their families at a pivotal moment.”

Clinton also vowed to improve access to child care for both active duty and reserve service members “both on- and off-base, including options for drop-in services, part-time child care, and the provision of extended-hours care, especially at Child Development Centers, while streamlining the process for re-registering children following a permanent change of station (PCS).” ​She did not say exactly what these improvements would entail.

“Service members should be able to focus on critical jobs without worrying about the availability and cost of childcare,” continues Clinton’s proposal.

Paid family leave has been a critical issue for Democrats on the campaign trail, and both Clinton and rival Democratic candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) rolled out clarifications and additional details about their proposals on the issue in January. Though the two candidates support similar federal policies, they would pay for them in different ways, with Clinton proposing raising taxes on the wealthy and Sanders pushing a payroll tax on workers and their employers.

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Clinton released a plan in early May to address the rising cost of child care in the United States, proposing that the federal government cap child-care costs at 10 percent of a family’s income, though the candidate’s campaign has yet to release details on how it would be implemented and funded.

Analysis conducted by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) in 2015 found that increasingly, “child care is out of reach for working families,” and in in 33 states and Washington, D.C., child-care costs were higher than the average cost of in-state tuition at public universities.

Anti-Choice Voters Unsure About Trump’s Stance on Abortion

Recent polling found that the majority of voters who describe themselves as “pro-life” aren’t sure about whether they agree with presumptive Republican nominee Trump’s position on abortion.

The poll, conducted by Gallup during the first week of May, found that 63 percent of anti-choice respondents were unable to say whether they agreed or disagreed with Trump’s stance on abortion. Almost equal shares of anti-choice respondents said they agreed or disagreed with the Republican candidate: 19 percent agreed while 18 percent disagreed.

The majority of overall respondents—56 percent—had “no opinion” on whether they agreed with Trump on abortion or not. Just 13 percent of those polled agreed.

Meanwhile, 38 percent of those polled who considered themselves “pro-choice” said they agreed with Clinton’s position on abortion while 47 percent had “no opinion.” Twenty-two percent of all people surveyed said they agreed with Clinton, while 32 percent disagreed and 46 percent had no opinion.

Gallup’s findings follow months of ambiguity from both Republicans and the anti-choice community about Trump’s position on reproductive rights. Though Trump has consistently pushed his opposition to abortion on the campaign trail, his past statements on “punishing” abortion patients should abortion become illegal, and willingness to change the GOP platform on abortion to include exceptions for cases of rape, incest, and life endangerment have landed him in hot water with some conservatives.

Anti-choice activists, however, are slowly starting to warm to the presumptive Republican nominee. Troy Newman, president of the radical group Operation Rescue, signaled he may be willing to back Trump in a blog post in May instructing the candidate to “earn” the anti-choice vote. Priests for Life and the Susan B. Anthony List officials both backed Trump in statements to the Washington Times, though they had previously spoken out against the Republican.

What Else We’re Reading

Eric Alterman explains in a piece for the Nation that the media’s willingness to provide a false equivalency to both sides of every issue “makes no sense when one side has little regard for the truth.”

“I don’t want to sound too much like a chauvinist, but when I come home and dinner’s not ready, I go through the roof,” said Trump in a 1994 interview with ABC News when discussing his romantic relationships. “I think that putting a wife to work is a very dangerous thing …. If you’re in business for yourself, I really think it’s a bad idea.”

Sanders spotlighted Native American communities while campaigning in California ahead of the state’s primary. “This campaign is listening to a people whose pain is rarely heard—that is the Native American people,” said Sanders at a Sunday campaign rally. “All of you know the Native American people were lied to. They were cheated. Treaties they negotiated were broken from before this country even became a country. And we owe the Native American people a debt of gratitude we can never fully repay.”

Fusion’s Jennifer Gerson Uffalussy questions why Trump has said so little about the the Zika virus.

CNN embedded in a chyron a fact-check on Trump’s false claims about nuclear weapons.

Ohio removed thousands of voters from the state’s voter registration rolls because those voters had not cast ballots since 2008, in a move that could reportedly help Republicans in the state. Though states do occasionally cleanse their rolls, “only a handful [of states] remove voters simply because they don’t vote on a regular basis,” reports Reuters.

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