House Passes HR 3, which Attempts to Ban Insurance Coverage of Abortion
Yesterday all House Republicans and 16 Democrats voted to pass HR 3, the "No Tax Payer Funding for Abortion Act." The bill, which purports to prohibit taxpayer funding of abortions and ensure that healthcare reform law does not cover the cost of abortions, is misleading and punitive. Currently, because of the Hyde Amendment, there is no federal funding of abortion. The bill will now go to the Senate for a vote, where it likely will not pass.
HR 3 prohibits a military person from paying for an abortion with her own money in a military hospital. Moreover, employers who have private insurance plans that include abortion coverage would have to pay tax penalties, and federal workers who pay their own insurance premiums out of pocket would nonetheless be prohibited from having abortion coverage in their insurance. HR 3 would take the premium assistance promised by health reform away from people who choose a private insurance plan with abortion coverage.
Reproductive Rights activists, including Feminist Majority Foundation organizers, and members of the organizations DC Vote and the DC Abortion Fund, along with several city council members, protested the bill on Wednesday evening at Capitol Hill. The protest was focused on HR3's permanent ban on the District's ability to use local funds for abortions, as well as the general federalizing of D.C. government and funds. Council member Mary Cheh and 7 other women activists were arrested for blocking traffic during the protest. The groups hope to continue putting pressure on Congress and plan to hold a similar protest next Wednesday, May 11.
Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, stated "True to form, the House majority has cast a wide net in its attack on women's health and rights - this time, trying to use the tax code to eradicate all insurance coverage for abortion. This move is the height of hypocrisy, because politicians who regularly rail against big government today voted to raise taxes on millions of families and small businesses - merely to stop them from purchasing insurance plans that cover abortion."
Media Resources: WAMU 5/5/11; The Hill 5/4/11; Center for Reproductive Rights 5/4/11; NARAL Pro-Choice America 5/4/11; Feminist Daily Newswire 5/4/11; LA Times 5/4/11
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .