Congress Approves Spending Bill With Abortion Restrictions
With the president’s signature expected any day, the US Congress approved the fiscal year 2003 $397.4 billion omnibus spending bill last week with several anti-women measures - including continued bans on federal spending for abortions. The House voted 338-83 to approve the much debated spending bill, while the Senate voted 76-20. Several Democrats complained that the 3,000-page bill was rushed through both chambers with many claiming that they did not know what they were voting on, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Although the Senate approved a version of the bill late last month that omitted the abortion bans, both chambers last week approved the version with the restrictions after the White House sent a letter to Congress that threatened a presidential veto of any bill that did not limit abortion spending.
Included in the final version of the bill is a ban on coverage of abortion procedures for the approximately 8 million women in the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program except in cases of rape, incest or when the life of the woman is in danger, according to Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Reports. In addition, the bill also bars abortions from being performed in the federal Bureau of Prisons system except in rape cases and when the life of the woman is in danger, Kaiser reports. Both measures will extend current law.
The bill includes an extra $10 billion for national security, a significant increase in funding for abstinence education and $34 million for UNFPA international family programs. Bush will likely withhold the UNFPA funds as he did last year, even after his own investigative team found that reports of UNFPA support for forced abortions in China were false. The US contribution makes up 13 percent of the total funding for UNFPA’s international family planning programs – and enables UNFPA to prevent two million unwanted pregnancies, 4,700 maternal deaths, nearly 60,000 cases of maternal illnesses and over 77,000 cases of infant and child death each year.
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. . . .