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July 17, 2012

Anti-Choice Lawmakers Continue Their War on Women

Contraception and other women’s health services come under attack again; leading pro-choice group reminds voters that elections matter

Washington, D.C.Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, called the release of a major health-spending bill yet another example of why Americans must end anti-choice control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

“This bill is the latest example of how anti-choice politicians are waging a War on Women. They are obsessed with targeting choice,” Keenan said. “These attacks on women’s freedom and privacy are way out of touch with our nation’s values and priorities. Our message to fair-minded Americans who are tired of this divisive agenda is clear: Join us in electing pro-choice candidates in November. We won’t end this War on Women unless we change who is in charge of the House of Representatives.”

Keenan said the proposal undermines women’s health and other important programs in the following ways:

  • Eliminates Title X Family-Planning Program.  Title X (ten) is the nation's cornerstone family-planning program for low-income women.  Currently, this program receives $297 million.  The House bill would zero out all funding for this essential program.  Preventing unintended pregnancies - and thus the need for abortion - is a goal on which both pro-choice and anti-choice lawmakers should agree.  During these challenging economic times, it is incomprehensible that politicians would slash investment in preventive programs that have long-term cost-saving benefits.

  • Attacks on Planned Parenthood.  This bill tries yet again to disqualify Planned Parenthood from receiving any federal funds.  For many women, Title X clinics provide the only basic health care that they receive; if enacted, the provision would devastate the nation’s family-planning network and leave many women without access to medical care.  Thankfully, such attempts have been resoundingly defeated.

  • Affordable Care Act Funding Cuts.  This bill forbids any funds in the legislation from being used to implement the Affordable Care Act, an historic law that holds tremendous promise for women’s reproductive-health care. Although not perfect, the law takes significant steps toward bringing more than 30 million Americans into a better health-care system than exists today and includes specific beneficial provisions for reproductive-health care, including improved access to maternity care and no-cost family-planning services for all insured women.

  • Funds Failed “Abstinence-Only” Programs. This bill cuts funding for teen-pregnancy-prevention initiatives and redirects those funds into failed “abstinence-only” programs.  Multiple independent studies have shown that “abstinence-only” programs do not work, and in some cases young people who participated in the programs actually increased their sexual activity.  This is unacceptable in light of our nation's adolescent reproductive-health crisis, with one in four teenage girls having a sexually transmitted disease, and one-third of teenage girls becoming pregnant before the age of 20.

  • Blocks Access to Critical Health Services.  The bill would allow any health plan or employer nationwide to refuse to provide any benefit required under the Affordable Care Act.  Among other effects, this provision would essentially gut the administration’s contraceptive-coverage policy.

The health-spending bill is just the latest attack on choice. Last week the House voted to repeal the health-reform law that includes major advances for women’s health, including near-universal prenatal care and contraceptive coverage. In addition to its attacks on the health-care law, the House has moved three stand-alone anti-choice bills in the last four months. Tomorrow, the Judiciary Committee is scheduled to mark up H.R.3803, a bill targeting women who live in Washington, D.C.  In May, anti-choice leaders failed to secure the necessary votes to pass a divisive bill, H.R.3541, which was wrongly described as a symbol for women’s rights. In March, the Judiciary Committee approved a bill, H.R.2299, which would endanger the health and safety of young women and threaten caring grandmothers with jail time.

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