Roundup: Insurance Lobby Wins Some, But Military Women Can Win Too

Rachel Larris

In the field of reproductive rights, you win some, and women lose some. Plus sometimes it seems for every step forward women make, someone wants to start you back at the beginning.

In the field of reproductive rights, you win some battles and you lose some. The struggle does make the victories seem sweet but I wonder why it’s got to be so darned hard all the time? Plus sometimes it seems for every step forward women make, someone wants to make us go back at the beginning. For example we had the happy
late-breaking
news last night
that Department of Defense will now stock emergency
contraception "at
all of its hospitals and health clinics around the world."
A great move
that took only 8 years since the Pentagon’s Pharmacy and Therapeutics
Committee, an advisory panel, first made such a recommendation.

Meanwhile in Colorado two state legislators had a great idea, let’s craft a bill that would expand insurance coverage of maternity care and contraception
to those who purchase health insurance individually, a mandate that 29 other states have. Great idea, right? Well the insurance
lobby managed to water down the bill.

Health
insurance lobbyists shuffled their papers and gazed at one another as Reps. Jerry Frangas and Beth McCann explained that they would amend the bill to
make it more friendly to the insurance industry in order to make sure it passed
through committee and onto the floor of the House.

"We need to take a step," McCann told the
Colorado Independent. "We can discuss further steps, but we need to get this
going so that women and families can at least have an option. We felt that
after speaking to members of the committee and representatives of the insurance
industry that we would be able to get the ball rolling if we didn’t mandate
[coverage] for every policy,"

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The
bill would have required that all individual insurance plans in the state cover
maternity care and contraception, the way group plans do, but the amendment
altered the bill to demand that all insurance companies offer at least one plan
for individual policyholders that includes maternity care. Contraception is not
included in the present version of the bill. The new version passed out of the House Business Affairs
and Labor Committee with all 11 committee
votes.

Meanwhile, while Iowa
is considering a bill that could expand
the availability of free birth control for low-income women
, there is a
simultaneous movement to create a state constitutional
amendment redefining "personhood" to begin at conception
.

Sixteen
Iowa lawmakers – 15 Republicans and one Democrat – have begun a process that
could result in an amendment of the Iowa Constitution, but the focus isn’t
same-sex marriage. The proposed amendment calls for the state to recognize human
eggs as persons worthy of legal protection, effectively ending any access to
abortion and possibly to contraception.

The language introduced in Iowa
reads as follows:

The right to life is the paramount
and most fundamental right of every person. With respect to the fundamental and
inalienable rights of all persons guaranteed in this Constitution, the word
"person’ applies to all human beings, irrespective of age, health, function,
physical or mental dependency, or method of reproduction, whether in vivo or in
vitro, from the beginning of their biological development, including the
single-cell human embryo.

The statement was introduced as a
joint resolution to amend the Iowa Constitution. In order for the amendment to
become law it would need to be adopted in two separate sessions of the Iowa
legislature before being placed on the ballot for final ratification in a
public vote. The measure was introduced and sent to the House Committee on
State Government, where it was further referred to a subcommittee. There is no
reason to believe, given the current make-up of the Iowa legislature and the
committee reviewing the bill, that this measure will find a path to the chamber
floor – at least not during the current legislative session.

In Other News:
Those living around Atlanta will soon be seeing giant
billboards touting the "Black Genocide."

And the pro-choice groups in Virginia who are seeking at
pro-choice specialty license plate to be created by an act of the General
Assembly hasn’t
encountered any legislative resistance
… yet. Although the state’s new
attorney general sure
isn’t a fan.

February 5, 2010

Birth
Control Sabotage and Coercion by Teenage Boys- What I Think
 EmpowHer

Abortion-rights
supporters want specialty license plate
 Richmond Times Dispatch

Ignatieff
misleads on abortion
 Toronto Star

Illegal Abortions Korea Times

Focus on
the Family buys pre-game ad time for Super Bowl
 USA Today

How Sperm
Swim: A Clue for Male Contraception?
 TIME

Pro-life
Leaders Respond to Criticism for Backing ‘Pro-Choice’ Brown
 Lifesite

What
about ManCrunch?
 New Yorker

Study:
Iowa’s publicly funded family planning is cost-effective
 Media Newswire

 

February 4, 2010

Plans to speed
up child adoption
 BBC News

Mia
Farrow criticizes illegal Haiti adoptions
 Washington Post

Molecule
that controls the speed of sperm found by scientists
 Telegraph.co.uk

Pentagon
to offer emergency contraception abroad
 Washington Post

Sperm
sprint secrets ‘may lead to new contraception’
 BBC News

Colorado
maternity insurance bill moves out of committee
 The Colorado Independent

Does the
Pill Affect Mood or Libido?
 Modern Mom

Senate
Committee to Vote on Free Birth Control for Low-Income Iowans
 KCRG

SIMMONS:
Red ribbons meet red tape
 Washington Times

Theo
Caldwell: In search of common ground on abortion
 National Post

Anti-abortion group
targets black women with billboards
 Atlanta Journal Constitution

Arizona
Pro-Life Laws Limiting Abortions Receive Court Hearing on Friday
 LifeNews.com

Barack
Obama May Have Two Supreme Court Picks Soon, Would Affect Abortion
 LifeNews.com

Catholic
Pro-Life Group Presents President Bush Award for Opposing Abortions
 LifeNews.com

Costa
Rican presidential candidate reveals opposition to abortion
 Catholic News Agency

Pentagon
to stock health facilities with emergency contraception
 Washington Post

An
Advocacy Ad Elevates Interest in All the Ads
 New York Times

Liberal
Leader Ignatieff Responds to Firestorm of Criticism over Abortion Remarks
 Lifesite

ACLU
threatens suit for pro-choice car plate
 The Virginian-Pilot

Archbishop
Calls Pro-Life Movement ‘Persistent Answer To Violence Of Abortion’
 Georgia Bulletin

Canadian
Station Pulls Pro-Life Ad – Too "Graphic"
 Lifesite

Group
Launches Petition in Support of "Censored" Canadian Pro-Life Ad
 Lifesite

 

News Abortion

Study: United States a ‘Stark Outlier’ in Countries With Legal Abortion, Thanks to Hyde Amendment

Nicole Knight Shine

The study's lead author said the United States' public-funding restriction makes it a "stark outlier among countries where abortion is legal—especially among high-income nations."

The vast majority of countries pay for abortion care, making the United States a global outlier and putting it on par with the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan and a handful of Balkan States, a new study in the journal Contraception finds.

A team of researchers conducted two rounds of surveys between 2011 and 2014 in 80 countries where abortion care is legal. They found that 59 countries, or 74 percent of those surveyed, either fully or partially cover terminations using public funding. The United States was one of only ten countries that limits federal funding for abortion care to exceptional cases, such as rape, incest, or life endangerment.

Among the 40 “high-income” countries included in the survey, 31 provided full or partial funding for abortion care—something the United States does not do.

Dr. Daniel Grossman, lead author and director of Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) at the University of California (UC) San Francisco, said in a statement announcing the findings that this country’s public-funding restriction makes it a “stark outlier among countries where abortion is legal—especially among high-income nations.”

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The researchers call on policymakers to make affordable health care a priority.

The federal Hyde Amendment (first passed in 1976 and reauthorized every year thereafter) bans the use of federal dollars for abortion care, except for cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment. Seventeen states, as the researchers note, bridge this gap by spending state money on terminations for low-income residents. Of the 14.1 million women enrolled in Medicaid, fewer than half, or 6.7 million, live in states that cover abortion services with state funds.

This funding gap delays abortion care for some people with limited means, who need time to raise money for the procedure, researchers note.

As Jamila Taylor and Yamani Hernandez wrote last year for Rewire, “We have heard first-person accounts of low-income women selling their belongings, going hungry for weeks as they save up their grocery money, or risking eviction by using their rent money to pay for an abortion, because of the Hyde Amendment.”

Public insurance coverage of abortion remains controversial in the United States despite “evidence that cost may create a barrier to access,” the authors observe.

“Women in the US, including those with low incomes, should have access to the highest quality of care, including the full range of reproductive health services,” Grossman said in the statement. “This research indicates there is a global consensus that abortion care should be covered like other health care.”

Earlier research indicated that U.S. women attempting to self-induce abortion cited high cost as a reason.

The team of ANSIRH researchers and Ibis Reproductive Health uncovered a bit of good news, finding that some countries are loosening abortion laws and paying for the procedures.

“Uruguay, as well as Mexico City,” as co-author Kate Grindlay from Ibis Reproductive Health noted in a press release, “legalized abortion in the first trimester in the past decade, and in both cases the service is available free of charge in public hospitals or covered by national insurance.”

News Abortion

Anti-Choice Legislator Confirms Vote on House Conscience Protections (Updated)

Christine Grimaldi

The Conscience Protection Act would give health-care providers a private right of action to seek civil damages in court, should they face supposed coercion to provide abortion care or discrimination stemming from their refusal to assist in abortion care. The Act allows providers to sue not only for threats, but also for perceived threats.

UPDATE: July 14, 10 a.m.: The House passed the Conscience Protection Act Wednesday night in a largely party line 245-182 vote. Prior to floor consideration, House Republicans stripped the text of an unrelated Senate-passed bill (S. 304) and replaced it with the Conscience Protection Act. They likely did so to skip the Senate committee referral process, House Democratic aides told Rewire, expediting consideration across the capitol and, in theory, ushering a final bill to the president’s desk. President Barack Obama, however, would veto the Conscience Protection Act, according to a statement of administration policy.

The U.S. House of Representatives will vote next Wednesday on legislation that would allow a broadened swath of health-care providers to sue if they’re supposedly coerced into providing abortion care, or if they face discrimination for refusing to provide such care, according to a prominent anti-choice lawmaker.

Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA) told Rewire in a Friday morning interview that House leadership confirmed a vote on the Conscience Protection Act (H.R. 4828) for July 13, days before the chamber adjourns for the presidential nominating conventions and the August recess. Pitts said he expects the bill to be brought up as a standalone measure, rather than as an amendment to any of the spending bills that have seen Republican amendments attacking a range of reproductive health care and LGBTQ protections.

The office of U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) had no immediate comment.

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Pitts’ remarks came during and after he hosted a “Forum on Conscience Protections” in the House Energy and Commerce Committee room to garner support for the bill.

Energy and Commerce Democrats boycotted the forum, a House Democratic aide told Rewire in a subsequent interview.

Legislation Builds on Precedent

Conscience protections are nothing new, the aide said. The latest iteration is a successor to the Health Care Conscience Rights Act (S. 1919/H.R. 940), which remains pending in the House and U.S. Senate. There’s also the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (S. 50) and similarly named bills in both chambers. The fiscal year 2017 Labor, Health, and Human Services funding bill, which guts Title X and Teen Pregnancy Prevention grants, includes the Health Care Conscience Rights Act.

At the leadership level, Ryan’s recently released health-care plan mimics key provisions in the Conscience Protection Act. Both would give health-care providers a private right of action to seek civil damages in court, should they face alleged coercion or discrimination stemming from their refusal to assist in abortion care. The Conscience Protection Act goes a step further, allowing providers to sue not only for threats, but also for perceived threats.

The proposals would also codify and expand the Weldon Amendment, named for former Rep. Dave Weldon (R-FL), who participated in Pitts’ conscience forum. The Weldon Amendment prohibits states that receive federal family planning funding from discriminating against health-care plans based on whether they cover abortion care. Currently, Congress must pass Weldon every year as an amendment to annual appropriations bills.

Administration Action Provides Impetus

There hadn’t been much public dialogue around conscience protections with the exception of some anti-choice groups that “have really been all over it,” the aide said. The National Right to Life issued an action alert, as did the Susan B. Anthony List, to galvanize support for the Conscience Protection Act.

The relative silence on the issue began to break after the Obama administration took a stand on abortion care in June.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights rejected anti-choice groups’ “right of conscience” complaint against California’s requirement that insurance plans must cover elective abortions under the definition of “basic health-care services.” Anti-choice groups had argued the California law violates the Weldon Amendment, but the administration found otherwise.

The California decision reinvigorated support for the Conscience Protection Act, the aide said. Ryan’s earlier health-care plan also specifically references the decision.

“We think this is going to be a big issue for us throughout the rest of this Congress,” the aide said.

Aide Outlines Additional Consequences

Beyond creating a private right of action and codifying Weldon, the Conscience Protection Act contains additional consequences for abortion care, the aide said.

The legislation would expand the definition of health-care providers to employers, social service organizations, and any other entity that offers insurance coverage, allowing them to raise objections under Weldon, the aide said. The aide characterized the change as a direct response to the California decision.

The legislation also broadens the list of objectionable services to include facilitating or making arrangements for abortion care, according to the aide.

The Republican-dominated House is likely to pass the Conscience Protection Act. But the aide did not expect it to advance in the Senate, which would all but certainly require a 60-vote threshold for such a controversial measure. More than anything, the aide said, the bill seems to be catering to anti-choice groups and long-time proponents of conscience clauses.

“The House oftentimes will pass these kinds of anti-choice proposals, and then they just go nowhere in the Senate,” the aide said.