News Contraception

Boxer: GOP Uses Shutdown to Reinvigorate ‘War on Women’

Adele M. Stan

On Sunday night, the House voted to make averting a government shutdown contingent on delaying health care for women. Senate women are crying foul.

Click here for all our coverage of the government shutdown.

As the Senate prepared to take up the latest version of H.J. 59, the continuing resolution (CR) passed by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives in the wee hours of Sunday morning, women senators called a press conference to decry a measure in the bill that would delay, by more than a year, implementation of coverage for preventive care for women, including but not limited to no-copay coverage for contraception.

Unless the CR—a measure needed to keep government running in absence of a budget—is passed by both chambers of Congress on Monday, the government will be forced to shut down operation on Tuesday, October 1. (Operations and personnel deemed “essential,” such as certain defense and emergency response entities, will still be working.) The measure is yet another attempt by the Republican majority in the House to tie the funding of the government to a poison pill that would damage or stop the full implementation Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

“[T]he latest Republican shutdown plan continues their war on women,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), who called the House bill “a budget buster” for its repeal of a medical device tax that would account for an estimated $39 billion on revenues, and a danger to the economy, since government workers will receive no pay during the shutdown, and small businesses that depend on the functioning of government institutions and parks will see reduced income.

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“But now they’ve added a new target, the Republicans have, a group they frequently punish—a group called women,” Boxer said. “Follow this: They keep all other benefits of Obamacare that have gone into effect already … but they do single out only one existing benefit to stop, and that benefit is known as the Women’s Health Amendment.”

Boxer was joined at the podium by Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), who sits on the Senate Finance Committee’s health-care subcommittee.

The delay in the implementation of that amendment was prompted by a letter sent to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) late last week by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA), and signed by 72 members of Congress, which urged the speaker to include in the CR language from a bill being pushed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops that would allow a so-called “conscience” exemption for employers from the ACA’s coverage mandate for prescription contraception in plans they offer to employees.

By using the Women’s Health Amendment as the mechanism for delaying the contraception provision, the House bill would also withhold mandated coverage for human papillomavirus (HPV) screenings, domestic violence counseling, breast-feeding counseling and supplies, and narrow the coverage offered for breast and cervical cancer screenings, as well as screening for domestic violence.

With its poison-pill provision on Obamacare, the House CR has no chance at passage in the Senate, ensuring a government shutdown.

Although most government employees will be placed on furlough once the shutdown goes into effect, members of Congress will continue to receive paychecks. Boxer is sponsoring a bill, S. 55, that would put senators and representatives on the same footing as other government employees, making them forfeit their paychecks for the duration of the shutdown.

That likely has about as much chance of passing the House as the anti-contraception CR has of passing the Senate.

News Politics

Former Klan Leader on Senate Run: My Views Are Now the ‘GOP Mainstream’

Teddy Wilson

David Duke has been a fervent support of the Trump campaign, and has posted dozens of messages in support of Trump on Twitter. Duke has often used the hashtag #TrumpWasRight.

David Duke, convicted felon, white supremacist, and former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, announced Friday that he will run for U.S. Senate in Louisiana, Roll Call reported.

Duke said that after a “great outpouring of overwhelming support,” he will campaign for the open Senate seat vacated by former Republican Sen. David Vitter, who lost a bid for Louisiana governor in a runoff election.

Duke’s announcement comes the day after Donald Trump accepted the GOP nomination in the midst of growing tensions over race relations across the country. Trump has been criticized during the campaign for his rhetoric, which, his critics say, mainstreams white nationalism and provokes anxiety and fear among students of color.

His statements about crime and immigration, particularly about immigrants from Mexico and predominantly Muslim countries, have been interpreted by outlets such as the New York Times as speaking to some white supporters’ “deeper and more elaborate bigotry.”

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Duke said in his campaign announcement that he was the first candidate to promote the policy of “America first,” echoing a line from Trump’s nomination acceptance speech on Thursday night.

“The most important difference between our plan and that of our opponents, is that our plan will put America First,” Trump said Thursday night. “As long as we are led by politicians who will not put America First, then we can be assured that other nations will not treat America with respect.”

Duke said his platform has become “the GOP mainstream” and claimed credit for propelling Republicans to control of Congress in 2010. He said he is “overjoyed to see Donald Trump … embrace most of the issues I’ve championed for years.”

Trump in February declined to disavow the support of a white supremacist group and Duke, saying he knew “nothing about David Duke” and knew “nothing about white supremacists.” He later clarified that he rejected their support, and blamed his initial failure to disavow Duke on a “bad earpiece.”

Trump’s candidacy has also brought to light brought many incidents of anti-Semitism, much of which has been directed at journalists and commentators covering the presidential campaign.

Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro wrote in the National Review that Trump’s nomination has “drawn anti-Semites from the woodwork,” and that the Republican nominee has been willing to “channel the support of anti-Semites to his own ends.”

Duke took to Twitter after Trump’s acceptance speech Thursday to express his support for the Republican nominee’s vision for America.

“Great Trump Speech, America First! Stop Wars! Defeat the Corrupt elites! Protect our Borders!, Fair Trade! Couldn’t have said it better!” Duke tweeted.

Duke has been a fervent Trump supporter, and has posted dozens of messages in support of Trump on Twitter. Duke has often used the hashtag #TrumpWasRight.

Duke was elected to the Louisiana house in 1989, serving one term. Duke was the Republican nominee for governor in 1991, and was defeated by Democrat Edwin Edwards.

Duke, who plead guilty in 2002 to mail fraud and tax fraud, has served a year in federal prison.

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.”