Category Archives: Reproductive Health Care
Republicans have long promised to “repeal and replace” the law that made coverage for pre-existing medical conditions mandatory. Prior to the Affordable Care Act, people with medical issues dubbed pre-existing conditions were denied health care, even if they had paid for insurance for years. An $8 billion last-minute fix attempts to fund some care for people with pre-existing conditions. But health care experts say it’s not enough. And it doesn’t mandate (or fund) coverage for pre-existing conditions like the Affordable Care Act did.
So what exactly is a pre-existing condition? It’s any medical condition, no matter how trivial, that existed prior to a person’s plan. When coverage for these conditions isn’t mandated, insurers can deny coverage on the basis of a pre-existing condition. This means sick people often can’t get health insurance. But it also means that people who think they have no relevant pre-existing conditions might still be denied care. For example, a woman with ovarian cancer might be denied coverage because she had an ovarian cyst 10, 20, or 70 years before.
Pre-existing condition exclusions harm women especially. That’s not an accident. The Republican administration and Republican Congress have targeted women for months.
A new Tennessee abortion ban bill prohibits abortion after 20 weeks. The bill, sponsored by Republican legislators, was roundly criticized by women’s rights groups. In testimony about the bill, one woman cried and called the bill “cruel.” Now, opponents of the bill are getting support from an unlikely source. Tennessee’s Republican attorney general, Herbert H. Slattery, III, has called the bill “constitutionally suspect.”
Repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act has been a rallying cry of the GOP for eight years. Now that they’re finally getting their chance, Republican leaders are struggling to find a politically acceptable replacement for the Affordable Care Act. Obamacare greatly expanded women’s access to healthcare, so Republican attempts at repeal pose a direct threat to millions of women. Here’s what could change.
Republican Replacement for the Affordable Care Act: Changes Now, Changes Later, and an Uncertain Future
The Republican replacement for the Affordable Care Act is a fiscal reconciliation bill. It’s also, they say, just the first in a series of legislation. So we don’t yet know how extensive the changes will be, or when they will come. So far, Republican changes include only defunding Planned Parenthood, draconian abortion regulations, and a massive scale back of Medicaid.
Planned Parenthood Funding
Republicans have been at war with Planned Parenthood, a major provider of women’s healthcare, for years. Unsurprisingly, their new plan completely defunds the organization. This could leave millions of women without access to birth control, reproductive health counseling, and other vital services.
The Hyde amendment already prohibits any public funding of abortion. The new Republican replacement for the Affordable Care Act would go further. Tax credits for healthcare coverage are a signature feature of the new legislation. But Republicans want to prohibit tax credits for any plan that covers abortion—even if the plan recipient never has an abortion. This could reduce the number of plans eligible for tax cuts, while encouraging insurers to refuse to cover abortion care.
The Republican replacement for the Affordable Care Act would scale back Medicaid coverage. Funding for Medicaid would be given to the states. However, funding would be capped, and coverage would be limited, reducing the total number of people eligible for care. This could have disastrous effects on preventative care, including for women’s health.
Birth Control Coverage
For now, birth control coverage is safe. As one of the most popular features of the ACA, coverage for birth control has saved countless women thousands of dollars. To anti-choice Republicans, birth control access should be a no-brainer. Research shows that birth control access can prevent abortions. Yet Republican opposition to abortion seemingly has little to do with protecting life. Republicans have steadfastly opposed the ACA’s birth control mandate. It’s likely that as soon as they get the chance, they’ll remove birth control coverage, throwing millions of women’s reproductive futures into uncertainty.
Republicans apparently aren’t sufficiently pro-life to want to fund the costs of carrying a baby to term. For years, Republican men have insisted they shouldn’t have to cover pregnancy and childbirth, even as they insist that women cover male-specific treatments such as prostate cancer screening and Viagra.
The Affordable Care Act requires all insurance plans to cover maternity care. Prior to the law, most employer-backed policies offered maternity coverage, but other plans rarely did. Moreover, even employer-supported plans often featured significant coverage gaps. While Republicans have not yet moved to eliminate the maternity care mandate, their long-time opposition to this piece of the legislation suggests they may soon attack it.
With average birth costs ranging from $10,000-$40,000 without insurance, this could put many women into bankruptcy solely because they chose to have a baby.
Under President Trump, Republicans will likely get at least two Supreme Court nominees. States across the country have reacted with more abortion restrictions. From incarcerated women denied abortions to laws completely banning the procedure, restrictive legislation is increasing. If the right case goes before the Supreme Court, abortion rights could end. Even if Roe vs. Wade survives, fewer abortion rights under President Trump are nearly inevitable. To learn more, read our Daily Kos blog for more details.
Doctors cannot be compelled to perform abortions. But a federal judge has ruled that this religious protection is insufficient. A Texas district judge has ruled that doctors can refuse to treat women who have had abortions and people who identify as transgender. Read our Daily Kos post on the ruling here.
Yet another study has demonstrated that abortion doesn’t harm women’s mental health. Women who can’t get abortions, however, do suffer mental health issues. State legislatures continue to claim otherwise. Some have even forced doctors to lie to women about abortion’s effects. To learn about the study, read our Daily Kos post here.
Republicans are already attacking abortion rights, and Donald Trump hasn’t even taken office. Doomsday scenarios serve no one. But to fight back against Donald Trump, it’s important to know what’s at stake. Here’s what you need to know about new state-level anti-choice measures.
Anti-choice lawmakers have long claimed that their attempts to shut down abortion clinics are the result of concerns for human life. But their steadfast opposition to policies that could actually end abortion suggest otherwise. Think we don’t know how to reduce the abortion and unwanted pregnancy rate? Think again. Here are five policies that could absolutely lower abortion rates–all opposed by Republican lawmakers.
Herbal abortion and home abortion now rank among the top web searches in the sub-category of reproductive rights. That’s not because women are eager to give themselves abortions; it’s because increasingly restrictive measures, public humiliation tactics, long waiting periods, and costly requirements have all pushed women into a desperate conundrum.
A Modern Take on ‘Back Alley’ Abortions
Before Roe vs. Wade, women desperate to end pregnancies were left with few appealing choices. Some threw themselves down flights of stairs or took dangerous poisons. Others resorted to coat hanger abortions.
Today, the Internet offers a bevy of self-styled experts, herbal “healers,” and fake doctors promising the next miracle cure. Some are well-intentioned, drawing upon centuries of tribal wisdom coupled with a little knowledge of plant chemistry. Others are only interested in making a quick buck, at the expense of the lives and health of women seeking abortions.
The result is a mounting public health epidemic. According to economist Seth Stevens-Davidowitz, who analyzes trends in Google searches, women are increasingly searching for terms such as “herbal abortion” and “home abortion.” The rise in these queries was steady between 2004-2008, with a sharp increase during the great Recession. In 2011, they surged again, coinciding with a sudden increase in anti-abortion restrictions.
By 2015, 160,000 queries sought alternatives to clinic abortions. Popular topics included home remedies for abortion, herbal abortions, and abortion-inducing drugs.
Why Abortion Restrictions Only Push Desperate Women to Dangerous Choices
Anti-choice extremists imagine that regulations designed to curtail abortion will somehow convince women to have their babies—or better yet, adopt them out to Christian families. But a barrier to abortion will not change how a woman feels about the pregnancy. Nor will preventing access to abortion suddenly offer a woman the resources she needs to carry the pregnancy to term.
Women have sought abortions for as long as there have been women, and it’s only been over the past 100 or so years that men have tried to restrict this access. Because abortion is a fundamental component of women’s health, women will not easily give up control over their bodies. And that means that abortion restrictions will lead to dangerous abortions that kill women and their babies.
Anti-choice extremists continue to lie to women about the effects of abortion, suggesting that morality has little to do with their movement. These lies are especially prevalent at so-called crisis pregnancy centers. Crisis pregnancy centers draw desperate women in with promises of free reproductive health care and pregnancy tests, then subject them to an onslaught of frightening and misleading information about abortion. “Patients” at these centers may also be told that birth control does not work, that sex outside of marriage is dangerous and wrong, or that women who have abortions are dying in droves. According to a new study of crisis pregnancy centers in Canada, misleading information and overt lies are commonplace at these facilities.
To learn more, follow ACOL’s Daily Kos story on the issue here.