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May 11, 2011This has been adapted from its original publication at AMSA On Call
As most of you are well aware, last week, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, a bill that creates new, harmful restrictions on reproductive health care. The Hyde Amendment already ensures that no taxpayer funding goes towards pregnancy termination; this bill goes beyond current law by raising taxes on small businesses and the self-employed who wish to purchase a private insurance plan that includes abortion care.
Many of you contacted your Representatives prior to the vote to tell them where you stand and all our voices will be needed as this bill moves on to the Senate as well. But before that goes down, there are five special, supposedly-moderate-formerly-pro-choice Representatives I want to point out and encourage you to follow up with if you happen to be so lucky as to be their constituents. Reps. Judy Biggert and Bob Dold of Illinois, Reps Rodney Frelinghuysen and Leonard Lance of New Jersey, and Rep. Richard Hanna of New York all underwent serious makeovers to vote for this bill. These Reps ran on pro-choice platforms in the campaign last year but voted for this very anti-choice bill. I encourage you to call them to let them know how this makes you feel.
I’m particularly disappointed with my former Congresswoman, Rep. Judy Biggert (IL-13). She previously served as co-chair of the pro-choice caucus. I mean, how does one get that mixed up?
I wish this were an isolated piece of legislation, but it is oh so far from it.
This bill was HR 3 – the third bill to get numbered when this new Congress came into session and clearly a priority of the majority party. After this bill was introduced, the budget battle over Planned Parenthood and its funding began. Those negotiations deferred the family planning funding issue for the time being but led to a deal that left the District of Columbia banned from using its own city funds to support abortion care for low income women. Another bill introduced in the House, The Protect Life Act (HR 358), seeks to expand conscious clause protections to apply to institutions and alters the obligation of referral/transfer (read: a woman with a miscarriage could present to an ER and be turned away if they thought she might have had an elective abortion and they’re not comfortable completing it). Meanwhile another bill seeks to get rid of funding for comprehensive sex education.
This is a very scary big deal. These are things that will not go away the first time they are voted down. This is not about your tax money. It is a blatant attack on women’s health and it is not just about abortion. By seeking to control basic sexual health education and access to family planning and preventive health the House of Representatives has made it clear that it finds itself to be more qualified than women to make important life decisions like when they’re ready to be parents.
This ideological battle is far removed from the reality of women’s health care in this country. Reproductive health care is just that, health care. As a medical student, I want all of my patients to be supported by health care providers when they are in need. Medical decisions – including those to end a pregnancy – should be discussed between women and their health care providers, not among members of Congress or employees of the IRS. If you feel the same, I urge you to speak out against these policies as they progress.
There are some champions in Congress who will be right there with you: