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House Republican proposes ‘unprecedented’ cuts to women’s health

By Kay Steiger
Wednesday, July 18, 2012 13:55 EDT
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Screenshot of Rep. Rehberg via YouTube
 
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Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT), chairman of the House Labor, Health and Human Service and Education Committee, has proposed a far-reaching anti-choice bill that boasts $6.2 billion in spending cuts, many of which are achieved through attacks on services for women’s reproductive health.

Rehberg’s bill (PDF), which has yet to undergo a committee vote, proposes cuts to various women’s health services, including cutting funding for Planned Parenthood. It also allows employers to opt out of insuring women employees’ contraception coverage for ‘moral reasons’ and authorizes spending on abstinence-only education, which is widely deemed ineffective at reducing teen pregnancy, STIs or the onset of sexual activity.

Planned Parenthood issued a statement objecting to the cuts, calling the bill an “unprecedented suite of attacks on women’s health.”

“This budget proposal is badly out of touch with the needs of American women and families. Chairman Denny Rehberg and the House Republican leadership clearly don’t think that their constituents care about their access to health care. They could not be more wrong,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “Eliminating vital preventive programs like the national family planning program and attacking women’s health providers will mean that millions of women would lose access to basic, preventive health services, and those are economic issues for millions of families.”

The bill blocks Medicaid funds for any women’s health services provided by Planned Parenthood. This tactic has been tried in many states, including Arizona, which passed a law in May prohibiting state Medicaid funding for clinics that offer abortions, even though the Hyde Amendment already bans federal funding from being used for abortion services and only about 3 percent of Planned Parenthood’s funds go to abortion care.

The bill requires any clinic that receives Title X family planning funding to encourage “family participation in the decision of minors to seek family planning services and that it provides counseling to minors on how to resist attempts to coerce minors into engaging in sexual activities,” and mandates no clinic receiving Title X funds “shall be exempt from any State law requiring notification or the reporting of child abuse, child molestation, sexual abuse, rape, or incest.” This directly violates laws that attempt to ensure patient-doctor confidentiality, such as the Health Information Privacy Act (HIPAA).

When it comes to employer heath insurance under the Affordable Care Act, the bill said an employer can ban birth control coverage if it “objects to such items or services on the basis of religious beliefs or moral convictions.” Catholic bishops famously opposed coverage of contraception under the Affordable Care Act, and Republicans even held an all-male hearing to discuss allowing employers to deny coverage. Ultimately the Obama administration offered a compromise in which they would require the insurance companies, not the employers, to cover the cost of contraception as preventative care.

The bill also sets aside $20 million in “competitive grants” for abstinence-only education, which has been scientifically proven to be ineffective.

“This bill is about making tough choices, setting priorities and doing the right thing,” Rehberg said in a press release on his website that failed to mention the nature of the cuts.

Planned Parenthood has objected to Rehberg’s proposed cuts before, even releasing an attack ad in May that highlighted his proposed 2011 cuts that offered similar attacks on women’s health care.

Watch the video, uploaded to YouTube by PPVotes on May 11.

(h/t Huffington Post)

Kay Steiger
Kay Steiger
Kay Steiger is the managing editor of Raw Story. Her contributions have appeared in The American Prospect, The Atlantic, Campus Progress, The Guardian, In These Times, Jezebel, Religion Dispatches, RH Reality Check, and others. You can follow her on Twitter @kaysteiger.
 
 
 
 
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