March 12, 2015 — Key stakeholders in women's health comment on a divisive antiabortion-rights provision included in an otherwise bipartisan bill on human trafficking, the latest Affordable Care Act challenge before the Supreme Court and more.
"[T]his kind of infringement on women's health care and fundamental individual rights should not be tolerated in a bill that is designed to preserve and expand those rights." -- Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), on an antiabortion-rights provision that was added to a bill (S 178) designed to fight human trafficking. The provision, which would have expanded restrictions on abortion funding by permanently applying the Hyde Amendment to a compensation fund for human trafficking survivors, scuttled progress on the otherwise bipartisan legislation (Women's Health Policy Report, 3/11).
"It's difficult to understand why people who are opposed to abortion want to undermine funding for programs that work to prevent unintended pregnancy and the need for abortion." -- Angie Remington, a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood, on a bill (SB 569) in Arkansas that would bar the state from distributing grants to individuals or entities that offer abortion services, counseling or referrals, or that have affiliations with such individuals or entities. A state Senate committee earlier this month advanced the bill to the full chamber (Women's Health Policy Report, 3/6).
"I can tell you that there was never a design that suggested to governors or state leaders that somehow, if they did not have a state-based marketplace, they would lose tax subsidies for their constituents." -- Former HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, on a Supreme Court case that will determine whether tax credits to help U.S. residents purchase coverage under the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) can be used in the federal insurance marketplace or only in state-run marketplaces (NPR's "Morning Edition," 3/3). The Supreme Court Justices heard oral arguments in the case, King v. Burwell, earlier this month (Women's Health Policy Report, 3/5).
"We're not going to stop until we have trust, respect and access for all." -- Dinorah Martinez, a field coordinator for the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, on an initiative in Texas aimed at improving women's access to reproductive health care in the state. As part of the campaign -- called "Trust. Respect. Access." -- state lawmakers have introduced a bill that would allow comprehensive sexuality education to be taught in Texas schools and another measure that would let minors ages 15 and older access birth control without requiring parental consent, among other measures (Women's Health Policy Report, 2/17).
"Politicians across the country should take notice of what happened in New Hampshire today." -- Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards, on a bipartisan vote by the New Hampshire House to reject a measure (HB 677) that would have defunded family planning and health centers in the state. The vote killed the bill for the Legislature's two-year session (Women's Health Policy Report, 2/19).
"With this action today, the politicians behind this law have revealed how far they are willing to go to advance their ideological agenda at the expense of women's rights, lives and safety." -- Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, on the West Virginia Legislature's vote to override the governor's veto of a 20-week abortion ban (HB 2568) (Huffington Post, 3/6). The new law is scheduled to take effect on May 26 (Women's Health Policy Report, 3/9).