Tuesday, August 2, 2011

No Cost Birth Control Approved

A positive post for women's health! I know, if you've been keeping informed on all of the different ways women's health has been threatened, it's a pleasant surprise to read the new guidelines being put into effect that support women's health!

First, a recap of this year so far:
H.R. 3
In January of this year, House Republicans introduced their first piece of anti-abortion legislation, H.R. 3, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act”, aimed at eliminating insurance coverage for abortion. Essentially the bill would prevent women from purchasing insurance covering abortion, even with their own money, through a series of tax penalties and the elimination of tax breaks for small businesses providing certain insurance options. The bill would also deny women access to abortions even in life threatening situations. 

H.R. 358
H.R. 358, the “Protect Life Act,” would “prohibit federal funding for abortions under the Affordable Care Act and ‘prevent funding from being withheld from institutions that refuse to provide abortions’” according to Think Progress.

Redefining Rape
As it stands, federal funding for abortion is already severely limited to cases of incest, rape or cases where the mother’s life is at risk. The H.R. 3 bill originally included language that would further limit these already severe restrictions to cases of “forcible rape”. The language is vague enough to exclude rape involving alcohol or date rape drugs and statutory rape from being counted as exceptions. As MoveOn.Org stated in a petition against the language in the bill, “As far too many women know, bruises and broken bones do not define rape - a lack of consent does.” The redefinition of rape provision was forced out of H.R.3 by massive public protest that included petitions and a public campaign by progressive groups, commentators and columnists. House Republicans led by Chris Brown and John Boehner were forced to back down and remove the language from the bill.

Eliminating Title X Family Planning
Unfortunately the onslaught didn’t stop there. New budget proposals presented by Congressional Republicans would eliminate funding for Title X, the 40 year-old program that funds family planning services, excluding abortion. This is the only federal funding that goes exclusively to family planning. The proposed cuts would mean denying millions of low-income people across the country access to contraception, STI testing, annual exams and life saving cancer screenings. Separate legislation introduced by Republican Representative Mike Pence would eliminate any Title X funding from going to abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood. Nancy Keenan of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said of the proposal that, “While these politicians attack abortion coverage from every angle, they now want to deny funding for birth control, even though that’s the best way to prevent unintended pregnancy. Americans will not stand for this blatant hypocrisy.” 

Yesterday, August 1st, 2011 
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has new guidelines requiring health insurance plans beginning on or after August 1, 2012 to cover birth control, among other preventive services. The guidelines are a part of the Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010. The act aims to make prevention affordable and accessible for all Americans by requiring health plans to cover recommended preventive services without cost sharing.(View the full list on the Department of Health and Human Services website.)

Even though not everyone supports this, like anti-choice groups and religious groups that are so close-minded and have tunnel vision they can only view the world from their narrow point-of-view, not seeing the greater good, there are many great articles, including Bust, Ms., and CNN.  It gives me a sliver of hope that people have not given up and won't just lie down and not stand up for their rights. All is not lost.

"Today is a historic victory for women's health and women across the country," said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America in a press release. "Covering birth control without co-pays is one of the most important steps we can take to prevent unintended pregnancy and keep women and children healthy."

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