The US House of Representatives passed a bill yesterday that will allow health care providers, including hospitals and health plans, to refuse to perform abortions, offer abortion training, cover abortions or provide medically accurate information about abortions and still receive federal funding. HR 4691, also known as the “Abortion Nondiscrimination Act,” which was partly drafted by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, has the potential to severely limit access to abortion, abortion referral, and information about abortion for women across the country. If this bill were to pass the Senate and become federal law, it would trump many state laws requiring state-certified or licensed health care providers and state Medicaid programs receiving taxpayer money to provide abortion services and referrals, according to the National Organization for Women (NOW).
Vague wording in the bill could also limit women’s access to emergency contraception, which could be defined as an abortifacient by providers, according to NOW. It could also block poor women’s access to abortion services, even in emergencies. Under current law, Medicaid recipients are entitled to abortion coverage in the case of rape, incest or health risks.
The legislation, which reports is not expected to reach the Senate this year, has the support of the Bush administration, which stated that “hospitals and health care professionals should not be forced to perform or participate in abortions,” according to the Associated Press. It is opposed by pro-choice groups such as the Feminist Majority, NOW, the National Abortion Rights and Action League (NARAL), and Planned Parenthood because women should not be refused comprehensive health care.
Media Resources: Associated Press 9/26/02; Reuters 9/25/02; NOW fact sheet 9/20/02
10/31/2014 Federal Judge Exempts Another Catholic University from Birth Control Coverage - A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Ave Maria University, a Catholic university in Florida, does not have to comply with federal rules meant to ensure that covered employees can exercise their right to obtain birth control at no cost.
The Affordable Care Act requires all new health insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives - such as the pill, emergency contraceptives, and IUDs - without charging co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance. . . .
10/31/2014 Women of Color in Tennessee Are United in Opposition to Amendment 1 - Just days before the general election in Tennessee, a coalition of community leaders, clergy, and advocates led a press conference encouraging women of color to vote no on Amendment 1, a dangerous and far-reaching measure on the state's ballot.
SisterReach, a grassroots organization focused on "empowering, organizing, and mobilizing women and girls in the community around their reproductive and sexual health to make informed decisions about themselves," organized the press conference "to call attention to the unique concerns Black and poor communities throughout Shelby County and across the state of Tennessee face on a daily basis" and to emphasize how the upcoming election "could further limit [black women's] reproductive, economic, political, and social autonomy."
"We assemble today to impress upon black women and women of color, many of whom are heads of households, to get out and vote," said SisterReacher Founder and CEO Cherisse Scott at the event.
SisterReach has been educating voters about the particularly dangerous impact of Amendment 1 on women of color. . . .
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .