HHS Rejects Indiana Law to Defund Planned Parenthood
Yesterday, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) notified Indiana state officials that an Indiana law prohibiting state agencies from contracting with clinics offering abortions violates federal law. Governor Mitch Daniels (R) signed the law on May 10, and in April, the state Senate and House voted to cut about $2 million in federal money that goes to Planned Parenthood, much of which is for Medicaid services. HHS Medical Administrator Don Berwick clarified, "Medicaid programs may not exclude qualified health care providers from providing services that are funded under the program because of a provider's scope of practice."
Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, stated, "By issuing a letter to the state of Indiana rejecting its proposal to bar Planned Parenthood from providing preventive health care through Medicaid, HHS is sending a clear message that states cannot play politics with women's health and prevent Medicaid patients form choosing their preferred health care providers. The new law in Indiana prevents nearly 10,000 women from accessing preventive health care, such as contraception, cancer screenings, and STD testing and treatment, from Planned Parenthood health centers."
Last week, US Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and twenty-nine other Senate Democrats issued a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius requesting that HHS officials advise Medicaid directors not to implement measures to prevent Medicaid or Title X funding from going to clinics that offer abortion service.
Following the HHS decision to block the Indiana law to defund Planned Parenthood, Senator Blumenthal stated, "This step is a powerful, prompt rebuke to Indiana- and a strong warning to other states considering similar ill-advised and illegal action denying essential health care to women... I hope other state legislatures considering similarly misguided attempts to block women, teens, and families from the health care and family planning services they need and deserve will reconsider these dangerous proposals, and I remain committed to standing up for women's health."
Media Resources: Associated Press 6/1/11; Statement of Richard Blumenthal 6/1/11; Feminist Daily Newswire 5/31/11
2/27/2015 This Bipartisan Bill Will Hold Colleges Accountable for Ending Campus Sexual Assault - A bipartisan bill aimed at holding colleges and universities accountable for rape and sexual assault cases was introduced in Congress yesterday, spearheaded by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).
Some of the Campus Accountability and Safety Act's key key provisions include a requirement of confidential reporting systems on colleges and universities, minimum training requirements for campus personnel, and stricter penalties for schools found to be in violation of Title IX or the Clery Act. . . .
2/26/2015 If This Bill Passes Federal Law Will Add Consent to Sex Ed Curriculums - Right now, federal law does not require health or sex education to include sexual assault prevention - but that could change with a new bill introduced by Senators Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Tim Kaine (D-VA).
The Teach Safe Relationships Act of 2015, which was introduced earlier this month, would require all public secondary schools in the country to include teaching "safe relationship behavior" in order to help prevent domestic violence and sexual assault. . . .