Tag Archives: planned-parenthood

Trump WH: Birth Control Mandate Is Unnecessary Because of Planned Parenthood, Which We’ll Also Defund

Mother Jones

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The Trump administration’s argument for letting lots of employers opt out of covering birth control is…not exactly bulletproof.

Yesterday, Vox reported that the Trump administration is considering a broad exemption to Obamacare’s mandate on contraceptive coverage, according to a leaked draft of the proposed rule. If passed, the rule would allow virtually any employer, not just a religious one, to remove birth control coverage from its insurance plan if contraception violates the organization’s religious beliefs or “moral convictions”—a broad and murky standard.

But, in a curious twist, part of the Trump administration’s justification for the move hinges on the existence of hundreds of Planned Parenthood clinics, many of which the White House is actively trying to close by “defundingPlanned Parenthood.

As the draft text explains, the administration believes the past rationale for Obamacare’s contraception mandate is insufficient. The document lists several reasons why this is the case. Here’s one of them:

“There are multiple Federal, state, and local programs that provide free or subsidized contraceptives for low-income women, including Medicaid (with a 90% Federal match for family planning services), Title X, health center grants, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. According to the Guttmacher Institute, government-subsidized family planning services are provided at 8,409 health centers overall. Various state programs supplement Federal programs, and 28 states have their own mandates of contraceptive coverage as a matter of state law. For example, the Title X program, administered by the HHS Office of Population Affairs (OPA), provides voluntary family planning information and services for clients based on their ability to pay.

“The availability of such programs to serve the most at-risk women identified by IOM Institute of Medicine, now known as the National Academy of Medicine diminishes the Government’s interest in applying the Mandate to objecting employers.”

The implication here is that since there are already programs like Medicaid and Title X to help low-income women afford contraception, the requirement that most employers provide no-cost birth control is less pressing.

But there are a couple of glaring contradictions here: First of all, of the 8,409 health centers that provide Medicaid and Title X family planning services, as cited in the rule, 817 of them are run by Planned Parenthood—the very group that Congress and the administration are trying to exclude from using Title X and Medicaid funds to provide health care.

Trump has already signed a bill into law allowing states to exclude Planned Parenthood and other providers who offer abortions from receiving Title X family planning funding—never mind that Title X funding is used exclusively for nonabortion services. Beyond that, there are several more proposals moving through government—including in the House’s American Health Care Act and in the Trump budget proposal—to withhold Medicaid and other federal dollars, including Title X, specifically from Planned Parenthood.

The problem with the White House’s logic boils down to this: As the nation’s largest provider of federal Title X-funded care, in 2015 Planned Parenthood centers served more than 40 percent of women nationwide using Title X-funded family planning care—a whopping 1.58 million patients. But if Planned Parenthood can no longer receive a single federal dollar to provide contraception and other family planning care—an oft-repeated goal of the Trump administration—then these nearly 1.6 million low-income patients will suddenly lose their family planning care. And now their employers may not cover that care either.

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Trump WH: Birth Control Mandate Is Unnecessary Because of Planned Parenthood, Which We’ll Also Defund

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Iowa Just Showed Us What Defunding Planned Parenthood Under Trumpcare Would Look Like

Mother Jones

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In a harbinger of what’s to come if the Obamacare repeal bill becomes law, Planned Parenthood has announced that it will close four health clinics in Iowa next month that serve nearly 15,000 patients.

The move is a direct result of a defunding measure signed into law by Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad last week that will go into effect on July 1. The new law rejects federal Medicaid dollars and replaces them with a state-run family planning program that will prohibit low-income patients from using their publicly funded insurance for care at providers, like Planned Parenthood, that also offer abortions.

“What is happening in Iowa is what we could see across the country if Congress passes this dangerous law to defund Planned Parenthood,” said Dr. Raegan McDonald-Mosley, chief medical officer at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, in a statement. “This is hardest on people who already face barriers to accessing health care—especially people of color, young people, people with low to moderate incomes, and people who live in rural areas.”

The defunding measure enacted by Iowa is similar to the one attached to the Obamacare repeal bill, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), that passed the House earlier this month and must now head to the Senate. That proposal would undo a federal statute that allows Medicaid patients to use their coverage broadly, prohibiting states from excluding abortion providers in doling out Medicaid reimbursements for nonabortion care. (The Hyde Amendment prohibits the use of federal Medicaid funds for most abortions.) Iowa’s new law rejects federal Medicaid funding and replaces it with state money so as not to run afoul of this federal requirement.

A number of other states have attempted to exclude abortion providers from their Medicaid programs, but only Texas has ever done so successfully, doing in 2011 exactly what Iowa did last week. Texas’ state-funded program promised to maintain the same level of care for patients without Planned Parenthood, through community health clinics, federally qualified health centers, and more. In reality, there was a significant drop in care for low-income patients: A number of clinics closed. Other health centers attempted to step in, but nearly 26,000 fewer women received reproductive health care. Medicaid contraception claims declined by 35 percent, suggesting that fewer low-income women were obtaining contraceptive care. There was also an increase in childbirths among women receiving Medicaid who’d previously received contraception from Planned Parenthood clinics. The areas that saw the largest drops in women served were those where Planned Parenthood clinics had to close.

The Iowa counties that will be losing Planned Parenthood clinics are poised for a similar decline in access to care: In three out of the four counties with health centers closing—Burlington, Keokuk, and Sioux City—Planned Parenthood served at least 80 percent of the family planning patients using publicly funded insurance, according to 2015 data.

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Iowa Just Showed Us What Defunding Planned Parenthood Under Trumpcare Would Look Like

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Congress Just Got a Lot Closer to Defunding Planned Parenthood

Mother Jones

On Thursday afternoon, the House voted to approve a resolution that is widely seen by advocates as a step towards defunding Planned Parenthood. Should it become law, the measure would weaken contraceptive access across the country.

The bill, HJ Resolution 43, allows states to withhold Title X family planning funds—about $300 million distributed to states annually—from providers who also offer abortion care, a group that includes Planned Parenthood affiliates. In December, Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services finalized a rule that anticipated this sort of effort by prohibiting states from withholding Title X family planning money from Planned Parenthood and other providers. This House resolution proposed overturning that HHS rule via the 1996 Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to repeal new regulations within 60 days of their passage. A version of this bill is also moving through the Senate.

At a House committee hearing earlier this week, Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) called this bill “the most serious threat women have faced so far this Congress.” Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) called this the Republicans’ “first salvo” in defunding Planned Parenthood.

This development comes on the heels of several actions by the Trump administration and Congress that threaten women’s health care. They include Congressional efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act’s mandate requiring insurance coverage for contraception; the approval by the House of a bill to codify the Hyde Amendment, which prevents the use of federal funds for most abortions; and Trump’s expansion of the global gag order, which prohibits health providers overseas from receiving any US funding if they so much as mention abortion as an option for patients.

In the last Congress, a broader bill to deny federal funds to Planned Parenthood passed both chambers, but was vetoed by then-President Barack Obama. In contrast, Trump’s campaign said often that defunding Planned Parenthood would be a top priority for his administration.

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Congress Just Got a Lot Closer to Defunding Planned Parenthood

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Pence Tells Evangelicals He’ll Help Trump Restrict Abortion Rights

Mother Jones

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GOP vice presidential nominee Mike Pence spoke to a convention of conservative Christians Saturday, drawing loud applause for his promises that he will work with Donald Trump to restrict abortion rights and appoint right-wing justices to the Supreme Court.

“Let me be clear: People who know me well know I’m pro-life, and I don’t apologize for it,” said Pence, the Republican governor of Indiana, to the largely evangelical crowd at the Values Voters Summit in Washington, DC. “I want to live to see the day that we put the sanctity of life back at the center of American law, and we send Roe v. Wade to the ash heap of history, where it belongs.”

Pence’s speech provided a stark contrast to his running mate’s address at the same summit. On Friday night, Trump asked attendees for their support in November without ever mentioning abortion or marriage. The pair of speeches reinforced this political duo’s dynamic, with Pence—a lifelong anti-abortion advocate with a legislative record to prove it—once again providing a salve for religious voters skeptical of the thrice-married, formerly pro-choice Trump.

Penny Nance, the president of Concerned Women for America, introduced Pence. She opened with an anecdote about getting a call from a reporter after Trump’s selection of Pence. She told the reporter there was one thing people needed to know: On abortion, “Mike Pence has a 100 percent Concerned Women for America voting record, and a zero percent record with the National Abortion Rights Action League,” also known as NARAL Pro-Choice America, an abortion rights group.

The audience roared with applause, and Nance lavished praised on Pence’s record both as a congressman and as Indiana Governor. “Mike was a leader in Congress before most people knew Planned Parenthood was the abortion mafia,” she said, citing the deceptively edited Center for Medical Progress videos released last summer that purported to show Planned Parenthood officials negotiating the sale of fetal tissue. (So far, four congressional investigations and 12 state-level investigations have found no wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood.) Nance also lauded Pence’s efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, both in Congress and as Indiana’s governor. By 2014, Pence had cut Planned Parenthood’s funding nearly in half in his state, resulting in the closure of five clinics, none of which ever provided abortions.

When Pence took the podium, he sharply criticized Hillary Clinton. He cited the Benghazi investigation—a popular topic among many of the speakers. Pence also blasted Clinton’s comments at a New York fundraiser Friday night, in which she said that “half” of Trump’s supporters represented “a basket of deplorables.”

“Let me just say from the bottom of my heart: Hillary, they are not a basket of anything,” Pence said. “They are Americans and they deserve your respect.” Pence added that he hadn’t heard “that level of disdain for Americans” since 2008, when Barack Obama said that residents of Midwestern towns with high unemployment “get bitter and cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

Pence went on to promise that a Trump administration would shore up the military, stand with Israel, and cut a variety of taxes. But soon, he turned back to abortion. Citing his own extensive record—including his funding for crisis pregnancy centers in Indiana and state legislation prohibiting women from obtaining an abortion because of the race, gender, or disability of the fetus—Pence outlined the Trump team’s plan for reproductive health access.

He promised to work with Congress to pass the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection act, a bill that would outlaw abortions after 20 weeks with exceptions only for cases of rape, incest, and threats to the woman’s life. (These kinds of abortions are rare and often happen when a serious fetal disability is discovered late in pregnancy.) “We will end late-term abortions nationwide,” Pence said. The post-20-week abortion ban failed in the Senate in September 2015, but was resurrected with a hearing in March.

Pence promised to uphold the Hyde amendment, which prohibits federal funding for abortions, and to defund Planned Parenthood. “The days of public funding for Planned Parenthood are over when the Trump-Pence administration arrives in Washington, DC,” he said.

And finally, Pence returned to Trump’s main selling point with evangelicals: the Supreme Court. “When it comes to life and our liberties,” he declared, “Donald Trump will appoint justices to the Supreme Court of the United States who will strictly construe the constitution of the United States in the tradition of the late and great Justice Antonin Scalia.”

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Pence Tells Evangelicals He’ll Help Trump Restrict Abortion Rights

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This Abortion Clinic Had to Shut Down Because It’s Expensive to Protect Against Violence

Mother Jones

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A Planned Parenthood clinic in Appleton, Wisconsin, is closing down. But not because of the state’s staunchly anti-abortion Legislature.

After two civilians and one police officer were killed at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs last November, the women’s health care provider reworked its security plans for each affiliate. The Appleton clinic, which provides a range of reproductive health services beyond abortion to Wisconsin women, is unable to fulfill the new requirements. The closure of this clinic means Wisconsin is down to two Planned Parenthood clinics, 80 miles apart, that provide abortions—one in Milwaukee and one in Madison.

In 2015, anti-abortion activist David Daleiden released undercover videos that purported to show Planned Parenthood officials involved in selling fetal tissue—a federal crime. This led to a string of 12 state and four congressional investigations, but none revealed any evidence of wrongdoing by the provider. The videos did reinvigorate the anti-abortion movement, and threats of violence against abortion providers surged, culminating in the Colorado Springs clinic shooting.

For local affiliates, this has meant providing more security and, as Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin Chief Operating Officer Chris Williams told the Capitol Times, the Appleton facility was unable to meet the “more stringent and scrutinized approach.” The Appleton clinic has experienced violence in the past. In 2012, anti-abortion activist Francis Grady threw a homemade explosive device through a window and damaged a small exam room. The facility was closed when the incident occurred, so no one was injured, and it reopened less than a week later.

The biggest concern was the state of the clinic building, Williams told the Capitol Times, and retrofitting it to make it secure would have cost nearly $300,000. He did not specify what precisely needed to be done. The clinic performed about 600 abortions per year, according to Williams. Collectively, the Madison and Milwaukee Planned Parenthoods provide about 3,400 abortions annually.

It’s no secret that Wisconsin has a history of passing stringent anti-abortion restrictions, and its governor, Scott Walker, has been quoted saying that choosing the life of a pregnant women or her fetus is a “false choice.” Planned Parenthood is currently suing the state for $1.8 million to reimburse the legal costs of fighting restrictions such as those from Texas that were recently struck down by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional.

The closure means women will now have to drive 200 or 300 miles to one of the other Wisconsin Planned Parenthood clinics, or go as far as Chicago or Minneapolis. Another option would be in Marquette, Michigan, where a single Planned Parenthood-affiliated physician provides abortions, but the scheduling is infrequent and can be unpredictable.

“While this decision is extremely disappointing and difficult to make, we believe our staff and patients deserve the best health care environment,” said Teri Huyuck, CEO of Planned Parenthood Wisconsin, in a statement. “We remain committed to finding other opportunities to enhance abortion access. We also call on elected officials and community leaders to create a dialogue that prioritizes women’s health and stop the hateful rhetoric and smear campaigns against abortion providers that breed acts of violence.”

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This Abortion Clinic Had to Shut Down Because It’s Expensive to Protect Against Violence

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