Category Archives: Reproductive Laws
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.”
Is Sexism the Only Value the Trump Administration Holds Dear? Comments by Neil Gorsuch About Women Suggest the Answer is Yes
Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch was once vaunted as a fair, intelligent choice. That veneer is beginning to crack, thanks in part to the revelation that Gorsuch made sexist comments while teaching a law school class. It’s all part of the same trend in the Trump administration: contempt for women.
Conservatives and liberals alike have long pointed to Donald Trump’s apparent lack of values. He was pro-choice before becoming “pro-life.” He promised to “drain the swamp,” then ignored his staff’s ethical lapses. His views on gun control, the Iraq War, health care, and taxes have been nearly impossible to pin down. The only thing that seems consistent is Trump’s contempt for women. He picked a vice president who thinks women shouldn’t work outside the home. His administration backs this notion. Trump has hired significantly fewer women than previous administrations. He’s also picked a Supreme Court nominee who cannot be fair and unbiased about issues affecting women.
Consider how Neil Gorsuch’s views on women could color his rulings on choice and other issues that affect 51% of the population. Gorsuch has of course denied the statements, probably because he realizes they call into question his integrity.
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.
Choice advocates interested in abortion access for all woman now often talk about reproductive justice as opposed to reproductive choice. The reproductive justice movement, which originated with feminist organizations such as SisterSong led by women of color, focuses on access issues, not just legal rights. Reproductive justice advocates argue that abortion can’t just be legal; it must also be available to the women who need it most.
Here are five ways abortion rights are constrained even when abortion is fully legal.
An Indiana House committee has narrowly approved legislation requiring providers to tell women about so-called “abortion reversal.” Women seeking to reverse a chemical abortion may seek injections of progesterone, a hormone that supports a number of chemical changes during the first trimester of pregnancy. The approval of the bill moves it one step closer to becoming law.
The procedure, which has no scientific support and which may be dangerous, is based on the faulty premise that many women regret their abortions. Abortion is inherently irreversible, so the bill marks a strange turn in an increasingly aggressive push to undermine reproductive choice.
Bizarre Indiana ‘Abortion Reversal’ Bill
The bill, which stoked heated debates in an House committee meeting, requires medical providers to tell women about medications that could reverse drug-induced abortions. The idea is that women may immediately regret their abortions and want a way out.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says there’s no science supporting abortion reversal. There have been less than 10 cases of claimed abortion reversal, and each case raises more questions than it answers. It may be that women seeking abortion reversal simply had failed abortions—not successfully reversed terminations.
The medications used to “reverse” such an abortion may cause serious side effects. Because abortion reversal is not an approved medical treatment, women may go to unethical clinics or buy progesterone injections online.
Even Republican lawmakers admit that the science they lean on is dicey at best. Two Republicans joined Democrats in opposing the bill, citing health and ethical concerns.
Women, Abortion, and Regret
In recent years, anti-choice activists have taken a new tack: rather than shaming women, they claim they’re trying to help them. Of course, those offers of help end as soon as the fetus becomes a baby, since anti-choice activists are generally the same people who oppose welfare, food stamps, a minimum wage hike, paid maternity leave, and other measures that could reduce the abortion rate. But when women are still pregnant with the babies Republican lawmakers will one day care nothing for, anti-choice zealots say they’re trying to help women avoid a lifetime of regret.
There’s no denying that a small number of women regret their abortions. However, research shows that the mental health effects of abortion are almost universally positive. Post-abortion syndrome—a type of PTSD that supposedly affects large numbers of women who have abortions—is a myth of the anti-choice movement.
We do know one way that abortion affects women’s mental health: women who receive abortions tend to report improvements in mental health. That makes sense, since having an unwanted child can lead to poverty, thwarted careers, and a wide range of health issues.
One ongoing study of women denied abortions has found that denying abortions can spur long-lasting psychological harm. Women who seek, but are denied, abortions are more likely to experience depression anxiety, to live in poverty, to remain in abusive relationships, and to suffer poor pregnancy outcomes.
Republican leaders seem fine with this. Their concern has never been about women seeking abortions. Their only interest appears to be punishing women with pregnancies—never mind the consequences those pregnancies yield for the woman or her child.
Indiana has passed a number of controversial abortion regulations in recent years. Many were spearheaded by then-Governor and Now-Vice President Mike Pence. A 2016 law requiring women to bury the remains of aborted and miscarried fetuses sparked national outrage. The Periods for Pence Campaign responded to the legislation by encouraging women to call Governor Pence to report details of their periods and reproductive efforts.
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.
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.
A Trump presidency is looking more and more like a depressing reality, in spite of fantasies of faithless electors or successful recounts. Reproductive rights activists are right to worry about the looming specter of an anti-choice authoritarian president. But the battle isn’t over yet. Though two Supreme Court nominees could overturn Roe vs. Wade, choice activists still have a number of options for fighting back right now. The time to take action is today, since choice is in question tomorrow. Learn more about what you can do to help by hopping over to our Daily Kos posting here.