When opponents of health reform introduced the repeal bill, you let Congress know how damaging repeal would be to women’s health. And the good news is that the Senate defeated that repeal attempt last week.
Now the same anti-health reform, anti-women’s health crowd has launched a more disguised strike against the health reform law, hidden in two bills (H.R. 3 and H.R. 358) that pretend to be a simple reinforcement of current abortion policy. But these bills are misleading, unfair and dangerous to women.
H.R. 358 is Rep. Joe Pitts' attempt to revive the policy, rejected in last year's health reform debate, that would prevent women from using even their own private funds to pay for abortion coverage in the health insurance exchanges. H.R. 3 sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey, is a grab-bag bill that combines many extreme policies that threaten women's health and access to health care for everyone. Supporters are deceptively describing it as a harmless restatement of current restrictions on federal funding for abortion. But we know those restrictions aren’t harmless!
Low-income women have been suffering from the damaging consequences of this policy for decades. And we know the truth about H.R. 3 – it would even more radically restrict access to abortion, extending the damage by making abortion coverage harder to get in the private insurance market and narrowing the already tightly limited exceptions allowed under current funding restrictions. It would also undermine the progress we're making to improve access to health care.
No safeguards for a woman's health or life
Current law allows coverage of abortion for women in the Medicaid program only when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest or when it is necessary to save the woman’s life. After public outrage (including an outstanding piece by Kristen Schaal on The Daily Show), sponsors of H.R. 3 dropped a provision that would have narrowed the rape exception to cases of "forcible rape," but other appalling provisions remain.
H.R. 3 would allow states to deny abortion coverage to women on Medicaid, even if the woman’s life is in danger. And both bills could allow hospitals to refuse to treat a woman with serious pregnancy complications who needs an abortion to protect her life.
The Smith bill wouldn’t allow abortion coverage to protect a woman whose pregnancy might make a chronic health condition, like heart disease, worse. And it would deny abortion care for a woman when her fetus has a condition that makes it unlikely to survive.
Raise taxes on employers, families and individuals with insurance that covers abortion
H.R. 3 would penalize families, small businesses and workers that buy into health plans that include abortion coverage. Effectively, it would raise taxes on all of these groups. How? It would deny small business owners tax credits to help them afford to provide employee health coverage, if they include abortion coverage in the policies they buy. It would prevent families from taking medical deductions currently allowed for health plans, if the plan covers abortion, and deny deductions for any medical expenses related to abortion care. And it would penalize displaced workers who have health insurance that includes abortion coverage by making them ineligible for a health coverage tax credit now available to help people who lose their jobs because of outsourcing or an employer’s decision to move production to another country.
Take away insurance coverage that women have
H.R. 358 would violate all the promises made to women that if we like the coverage we have, we can keep it. With the restrictions it would impose on insurance coverage offered in the health exchanges, it would prevent women from buying private insurance coverage that covers abortion. This means that millions of women would lose coverage that they have today.
What should you do?
Congress is considering H.R. 3 and H.R. 358 now – contact your Representative now to oppose these sneak attacks on women and health reform!
It’s time to raise your voice make sure your Representatives know that these sneak attacks are dangerous and unfair to women, AND they pose a serious threat to our progress in improving health access.