For Women Everywhere
Women’s FEST will be taking place soon, and women will come to Rehoboth Beach to laugh together, learn together, and love together. Today there are specific issues of great importance to women. They include Planned Parenthood funding, equal pay in the workplace, and fifty shades of women’s healthcare. Of course, Congress is solving all of these problems in the best way they know how. And that is—well, let’s take a closer look.
Never was there such a a more telling photograph than the one tweeted by Vice-President Mike Pence when he joined President Donald Trump at a meeting with the House Freedom Caucus. There to discuss cuts to the now-failed American Health Care Act (ACHA) was a room full of white men desiring to remove ten “essential health benefits” from the new and improved Republican replacement of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). These essential health benefits would now be optional coverages, paid for and used only by those women who have need of them. Why should such fine, upstanding white men be required to pay for mammograms, birth control, STD testing and treatment, pregnancy care, childbirth costs and breastfeeding services?
Ellen Malcolm, the founder of Emily’s List, poignantly tweeted, “If you don’t have a seat at the table, you’re probably on the menu.” Fortunately, the ACHA failed to even come a vote—twice—and has been relegated to a growing list of Trump failures. But it is likely that this poorly-designed replacement for the ACA will someday be dusted off and regurgitated for a more palatable discussion by the same white men. One consequence of this legislation is that more women across the country are preparing to run for offices up and down the ballot. Wouldn’t it be a wonderful turn of events if someone tweeted a picture of a meeting of all women of all colors taking action on legislation for men’s healthcare?
Not every piece of legislation that opposes and oppresses women comes from Capitol Hill. Republican-controlled legislatures across the country are getting more creative by the day in drafting bills that are detrimental to the health and well-being of women and the choices they face in healthcare. Texas Senate Bill 25 is a prime example. This bill ostensibly prohibits a patient from suing a physician if a child is born with disabilities. Sounds ok so far, right?
Hidden within the language of this bill, however, is a provision that would permit doctors to withhold information from the parents about disabilities that an unborn child may have. In other words, a doctor could lie about whether a fetus had a disability, and the parents could not sue the doctor. The unspoken purpose of this bill is to prevent parents from choosing abortion as a consequence of fetal disability, and relieves the anti-abortion physician from legal action. This bill passed the state Senate and is now on the table with the state House.
Seven states are diverting funds intended for welfare into the programs and services of “Crisis Pregnancy Centers,” or CPCs. These centers are storefronts for anti-abortion counseling and lobbying. Reviewing the website for the Sussex Pregnancy Care Center, they are “dedicated to giving complete up-to-date and accurate information regarding pregnancy, sexual health, and relationships.” They provide free pregnancy testing, parenting and childbirth classes, maternity clothes and “information on all your options including: abortion, adoption, and parenting.” It is not much of a stretch to conclude that their abortion counseling consists of strategies to prevent it.
We will continue to witness an increase of CPCs and defunding for Planned Parenthood. This agenda item has long been bandied about by those who are adamantly opposed to the abortion-providing Planned Parenthood. It has been erroneously reported that as much as 94% of Planned Parenthood funding goes toward covering costs of abortions. Those who seek to shut down this organization, like many in the political world today, do not care for accuracy and factual information.
It is imperative that we understand the source of funding for Planned Parenthood services. In a commentary on January 15, 2017 NPR reporter Julie Rovner wrote, “Planned Parenthood gets its funding from several different government sources. According to the group’s most recent annual report, Planned Parenthood affiliates got $553.7 million from federal, state, and local governments, accounting for almost half of its total funding. According to the organization, about 75 percent of that government support comes from the Medicaid program to pay for direct medical services provided to low-income patients, including contraception, cancer screenings and sexually transmitted disease testing and treatment. The remaining quarter comes from other sources, primarily the Title X federal family planning program. The Congressional Budget Office estimated last year that the group gets approximately $390 million annually from Medicaid and $60 million from Title X.”
Interestingly enough, NONE of this funding may be used for abortion services, per federal restrictions already in place. Two female Senators have expressed opposition to defunding PP. They are Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). However, the Appropriations budget is scheduled to expire on April 28. Hearings for the Department of Health and Human Services will be the focus of these budget priorities. Stay tuned…
Many aspects of women’s healthcare are under attack at both the state and federal levels. Continued funding for Planned Parenthood is in jeopardy. It will remain for an upcoming article to review unequal pay for women. (To be consistent, only 80% of my article will address this issue!!) In the meantime, pack your bags for CAMP Rehoboth’s 2017 Women’s FEST. See you there!