The current Republican attack on women's personal liberties, our access to reproductive health services and our right to lifesaving medical care is stunning in its scope, appalling in its indifference, and outrageous in its arrogance. Their proposals go way beyond anything in current law, significantly reducing access to family planning services and making abortion uninsurable. For years, anti-choice advocates succeeded in whittling away at reproductive freedoms, but the current three-pronged attack goes far beyond anything in existing law and is dangerous beyond measure.
First, there is HR 358, which would allow medical providers to decline to treat a woman whose life is at risk if doctors believe the treatment might harm her fetus. Furthermore, if a woman's condition is so serious that she needs to be hospitalized, the GOP proposal would permit the hospital to decline to perform a life-saving abortion or to transfer her to another facility that will. Some critics are understandably calling this bill the "Let Women Die Act."
As indifferent to the lives of women as HR 358 is, it is just one part of a package. HR 3, the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act," makes it highly unlikely that any insurance company would write a policy that covers abortions. Under this bill no policy will be eligible for a tax deduction or tax credit if it covers abortion. Women would also be prohibited from using pre-tax dollars in their flexible spending plans to pay for abortions. There is no exemption to preserve the woman's health. In its overreach and arrogance, this bill would not just deny abortion coverage to poor women who get their health care through government programs like Medicaid, it would deny such critical care even to those women who are paying thousands of dollars of their own money for private insurance, either directly or through their employer.
In a third and particularly pernicious attack, the GOP is working to deny all Title X family planning funding to Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers. The GOP's continuing resolution to fund the government through the end of this year, which the Republican-controlled House passed last week without a single Democratic vote, targeted Planned Parenthood and successfully defunded the lifesaving organization.
Planned Parenthood is the nation's largest provider of family planning services, and for roughly 60 percent of their patients, they serve as primary care physicians. According to the 2008-2009 Annual Report for Planned Parenthood, 90 percent of the health care they provide is designed to prevent conception, reduce the incidence of sexually-transmitted diseases (STD) through testing and treatment, and to prevent cervical and other cancers through lifesaving screenings, including one million pap tests, 830,000 breast examinations and 4 million STD tests. The GOP's anti-woman provisions would make it impossible for poor women to receive such services at providers such as Planned Parenthood, leaving many women with nowhere else to turn.
Even as they complain about "the government's intrusion into people's lives", the far-right forces of reaction are using their newfound power, not to grow the economy, but to invade even the most personal areas of women's private lives, coming between her and her doctor, and dictating her decisions in private family matters.
Not one of these Republican proposals would create a single job, decrease the deficit, expand the economy, increase our freedom or insure our liberty. These proposals are not merely anti-choice -- they are also anti-health and anti-woman.
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