Why Abortion Rights Groups Are Fighting Their Battles At The State Level In 2019

Why Abortion Rights Groups Are Fighting Their Battles At The State Level In 2019

By Monica Busch
Feb 13, 2019

Abortion rights advocates are upfront about the fact that they believe there are currently very real, tangible threats to Roe v. Wade, especially given the Supreme Court's conservative majority. With this in mind, some organizations say they are spending more time advocating for state-level abortion laws in order to protect access in as many places as possible, should the landmark ruling one day be overturned.

"The truth is, it begins and ends in the state. Even our best [rulings], like Roe v. Wade, came from a challenge to a restrictive Texas law that criminalized abortion," Andrea Miller, president of the National Institute for Reproductive Health (NIRH) and the NIRH Action Fund, tells Bustle. "The reality is that states have long been the arbiters of whether or not women are able to access reproductive health care, and whether their rights are going to be protected."

Continued: https://www.bustle.com/p/why-abortion-rights-groups-are-fighting-their-battles-at-the-state-level-in-2019-15904800

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USA – Senate Rejects Bill to Deny Millions of Women Health Care Coverage

Senate Rejects Bill to Deny Millions of Women Health Care Coverage

01.17.19 - (PRESS RELEASE) Today, the U.S. Senate rejected a sweeping ban on insurance coverage of abortion that would have devastated access to reproductive healthcare for millions of women. Failing the 60 vote threshold, the 48-47 procedural vote on S. 109 came just days before the 46th anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision on January 22.

The bill would have expanded and made permanent the discriminatory Hyde Amendment, an annual appropriations rider that blocks abortion coverage from those who receive health care or insurance through the federal government, such as active duty servicemembers, veterans, and federal government employees, except in extremely limited circumstances—a move that would have ripple effects through the insurance market and threaten access to abortion care for millions of women.

Continued: https://www.reproductiverights.org/press-room/anti-abortion-bill-rejected

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Where U.S. Battles Over Abortion Will Play Out In 2019

Where U.S. Battles Over Abortion Will Play Out In 2019

January 8, 2019
Julie Rovner

With Democrats now in control of the U.S. House of Representatives, it might appear that the fight over abortion rights has become a standoff.

After all, abortion-rights supporters within the Democratic caucus will be in a position to block the kind of curbs that Republicans advanced over the past two years when they had control of Congress.

Continued: https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2019/01/08/682452994/where-u-s-battles-over-abortion-will-play-out-in-2019

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USA – Nowhere to “Hyde”: Congressional Democrats target restriction on federal abortion funding

Nowhere to “Hyde”: Congressional Democrats target restriction on federal abortion funding

By Gabriela Resto-Montero
Aug. 4, 2018

For over 40 years, the Hyde Amendment has barred any federal money from being used to pay for abortions, except for in some cases involving rape, incest or instances where the mother may lose her life. Although the amendment is just a rider on the annual appropriation bill to fund the Health and Human Services Department, in every year since 1976, Congress has approved the measure. Those days may now be over.

In response to President Donald Trump endorsing making the Hyde Amendment a permanent law during his campaign, Democratic Congresswomen Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) and former New York representative Louise Slaughter, who has since died, introduced the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance Act, or EACH Woman Act, in January 2017 to allow any woman who has health insurance through the federal government to have access to all reproductive care services, including abortion.

Continued: https://mic.com/articles/190582/nowhere-to-hyde-congressional-democrats-target-restriction-on-federal-abortion-funding#.onUZKQx0V

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U.S.: Clinton leads way on abortion rights as Democrats seek end to decades-old rule

In January, Clinton accepted the endorsement of Planned Parenthood. Photograph: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA

The presumptive Democratic nominee has taken a rare stand against a ban on Medicaid funds to pay for abortions – and the party platform is on her side

by Molly Redden

Tuesday 26 July 2016  22.00 BST

On a biting day in January, Hillary Clinton climbed the stage at a New Hampshire rally and accepted an endorsement from Planned Parenthood.

It was a day of unusual events. The country’s largest reproductive healthcare provider had never before made an endorsement in a presidential primary. But it was the Democratic presidential candidate who made the truly surprising announcement: a call for the repeal of the Hyde amendment, which bans the use of federal Medicaid dollars to pay for abortions.

“Any right that requires you to take extraordinary measures to access it is no right at all,” Clinton said. “And not as long as we have laws on the book like the Hyde amendment making it harder for low-income women to exercise their full rights.” She supported repealing the amendment, she said the next day, “and actually I have for a very long time”.

The announcement made Clinton one of the only modern presidential candidates to oppose the nearly 40-year-old ban on federal abortion coverage. And this week, the rest of her party will follow suit. In what is the first significant shift to the party line on abortion in decades, Democrats will approve a platform at the Democratic national convention in Philadelphia that explicitly calls for elected officials to overturn Hyde.

But in a sharp departure from how abortion issues normally percolate, the loudest calls for the repeal of Hyde did not originate with groups such as Planned Parenthood or Naral Pro-Choice America – groups that have set the agenda for abortion rights supporters for decades. Instead, the calls originated with groups such as the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health and SisterSong.

“Women of color leaders have been calling for the repeal of Hyde for decades when most mainstream reproductive rights groups did not prioritize this issue,” said Jessica González-Rojas, director of the National Latina Institute and an All Above All co-chair.

The result is a movement that overtly fuses one of the modern Democratic party’s most established positions – support for abortion rights – with the interests of the activists who increasingly represent the demographic future of the party.

The target is substantial. Hyde is one of the biggest barriers to abortion left standing, after the supreme court in June struck down health restrictions with no basis in evidence.

It is not a law, but a rider that has been attached to every one of Congress’ annual appropriations bills since 1976, when it was first introduced by the congressman Henry Hyde of Illinois. Today, the amendment prevents abortion coverage for some seven million women, about half of whom live below the federal poverty line. The only exceptions to the ban are when a woman’s health or life is in danger or the pregnancy is the result of rape.

“I would argue that it’s the harshest abortion restriction still on the books today,” said Destiny Lopez, who is co-director of All Above All, a network of reproductive rights advocates that is leading the first serious push to repeal the Hyde amendment in decades.

An All Above All letter addressed to the Democratic platform drafting committee read, “Coverage bans represent a deeply entrenched injustice, where issues of economic injustice, racism, and gender inequity come together.”

Democrats’ platform first outlined a position on abortion in 1976, three years after the supreme court case Roe v Wade established a right to the procedure. Acknowledging that some Americans had “religious and ethical concerns” about abortion, the party nevertheless said it was supportive of the justices’ ruling. In 1988, without specifically mentioning abortion, the platform declared, “The right of reproductive choice should be guaranteed regardless of ability to pay.”

But for 28 years, Democratic conventions were silent on how to actually guarantee that poor women had access to abortion. In Congress, even when the party firmly controlled the legislature, Democrats continued to approach the Hyde amendment as a forgone conclusion.

“This was really the third rail of abortion politics for a long time, even for folks who supported access to abortion,” said Destiny Lopez, the co-director of All Above All. “It involved both poor women and government funding, and that made people very nervous to talk about it.”

What changed, said Lopez, was more women of color forming their own reproductive rights groups and Democrats realizing their reliance had increased on nonwhite voters, young voters and women. Such is the makeup of most of the groups All Above All has organized to oppose the Hyde amendment. “It’s not a coincidence,” said Lopez, that this year those groups are succeeding in altering the Democratic platform.

All Above All was forged out of a frustration many activists felt after politics embroiled abortion coverage in the Affordable Care Act. It notched its first victory in 2015 when the California representative Barbara Lee, a longtime abortion rights supporter, led the introduction of a bill to guarantee abortion access for women on Medicaid. The bill also covered women insured by the government through the military, Peace Corps and veterans affairs.

This spring, Lee wrote the demand to repeal Hyde into the Democratic platform, as well as a call to overturn the Helms amendment. Many presidential administrations have interpreted the amendment, named for the former North Carolina senator Jesse Helms, as prohibiting US foreign aid from covering abortions. (Clinton has also promised to seek the repeal of Helms.)

It is a sharp reversal from the 90s, when the Democratic platform called for “less necessary, more rare” and “safe, legal, and rare” abortions. The latter was Clinton’s stated position on abortion for years on end.

Hyde still has stalwarts within her party. Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia has said that for the party to oppose the Hyde amendment is “crazy”.

But the most high-profile supporter within the Democratic party may be Tim Kaine, the Virginia senator Clinton selected last week as her running mate for president.

Although Kaine has a 100% rating from Planned Parenthood, he has said he opposes public funds for abortion. “I have traditionally been a supporter of the Hyde amendment,” Kaine told the conservative magazine the Weekly Standard in July. He added he wasn’t aware of a call to repeal Hyde in the platform, “but I’ll check it out”. Neither Kaine nor the Clinton campaign has said if he now supports Clinton’s position.

Anti-abortion groups immediately denounced the Democrats’ position when a draft of the platform was released.

“The platform Democrats are expected to ratify in Philadelphia is unrecognizable compared to twenty years ago, when the party claimed to ‘respect the individual conscience of each American’ on the abortion,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of Susan B Anthony List, an anti-abortion political action committee. “This is a gross violation of conscience rights.”

But proponents of repealing Hyde cite polls which show that public opinion is creeping in their favor.

“The pressure has been put on us by this electorate, by 18- to 30-year-olds, and women of color,” said Lee, the congresswoman. “I give them credit for insisting on it and holding us to it. It’s long overdue, but there’s finally a critical mass.”

Source: The Guardian

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U.S. – Efforts Aimed at Repealing the Hyde Amendment Gain Momentum

Guttmacher Institute

July 14, 2016 News Release

New Analysis Details Hyde’s Impact on Vulnerable Groups, Documents Growing Campaign to Restore Abortion Coverage for Poor Women

For the last four decades, the Hyde Amendment has banned the use of federal dollars for abortion coverage (except in the most extreme circumstances) for women insured by Medicaid, the main public health insurance program for low-income Americans. According to a new analysis in the Guttmacher Policy Review, abortion rights advocates and policymakers alike are working on multiple fronts to build support for lifting the Hyde Amendment.

The analysis details Hyde’s detrimental impact on low-income women in general and women of color in particular. Poor women experience unintended pregnancies at five times the rate of their better-off peers, and abortion has become increasingly concentrated among this group. Many affected women struggle to come up with the money to pay for the procedure and, as a result, often experience delays obtaining an abortion; some are forced to carry their unintended pregnancy to term. Because of systemic social and economic inequality, women of color are disproportionately likely to be poor and insured through Medicaid—and are therefore disproportionately impacted by the Hyde Amendment.

“Federal and state restrictions on abortion coverage hit the most vulnerable groups in our country hardest,” says Heather D. Boonstra, author of the analysis. “A repeal of the Hyde Amendment would not only restore abortion coverage for women most likely to experience an unintended pregnancy. It would also entrench full reproductive choice and autonomy as a fundamental right for all—rather than a privilege for those who can afford it.”

Unfortunately, Boonstra explains, the majority (60%) of women of reproductive age who are enrolled in Medicaid live in states that do not cover abortion except in very limited circumstances. This means some seven million women aged 15–44—including 3.4 million women living below the federal poverty level—are unable to use their Medicaid coverage for abortion services. Slightly more than half of the seven million women are women of color.

Boonstra documents how grassroots organizers, advocates and policymakers are working to build support in Congress, in state legislatures and among the American public for repealing the Hyde Amendment. For example:

  • All* Above All, a network of reproductive rights and justice groups, has led the grassroots effort through activities such as social media, college campus visits and a petition to Congress.
  • Digital campaigns, including the 1 in 3 Campaign and #ShoutYourAbortion, encourage women to share their stories about abortion in order to destigmatize the procedure and strengthen support for abortion access.
  • In Congress, legislators are gathering support for the EACH Woman Act and the Women’s Health Protection Act, both of which directly aim to roll back federal and state restrictions on abortion coverage and care.

“Recent grassroots efforts, digital campaigns and legislative actions are bringing the much-needed voices of low-income women to the national conversation about abortion access,” Boonstra says. “Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision to strike down abortion restrictions in Texas, there is a sense that efforts to roll back other restrictions—including the Hyde Amendment—are gathering momentum. This decision represents important progress, even as advocates and lawmakers remain realistic that repealing Hyde is a long-term goal that will require years of hard work to overcome myriad political and other obstacles.”

Full analysis: “Abortion in the Lives of Women Struggling Financially: Why Insurance Coverage Matters” by Heather Boonstra

Source: Guttmacher Institute

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