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.
Myth of Taxpayer Funded Abortions (and Why Using Taxes to Fund Abortions Could Save Lives and Money)
Republicans have long stirred up their base by arguing against taxpayer funded abortion. At this year’s March for Life, Mike Pence even promised to end taxpayer funded abortion. Taxpayer money doesn’t fund abortions. It hasn’t in decades. But research suggests that making abortion accessible with taxpayer funded abortions could save money. It would also save lives. Read the rest of this entry »
This week’s swearing-in of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch has raised concerns among pro-choice activists. Any of the many state-level abortion restrictions could make their way to the Supreme Court. This, in turn, could spell the end of Roe vs. Wade. Gorsuch replaced a conservative justice. This means the technical balance of the Court hasn’t shifted. But with one more Supreme Court nominee, the Court should shift further right than it has been in four decades.
With all the focus on abortion rights, it’s easy to lose sight of something most people take completely for granted: premarital and casual sex. Abortion rights helped birth the sexual revolution. The transformation this produced took premarital sex from scandalous to standard. A Supreme Court that reverses choice rights, or even one that just eats away at choice, could affect the sex life of anyone who’s ever deigned to have sex outside of marriage–and that’s almost everyone.
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.”
Anti-choice zealots know they’re about to have another friend on the Supreme Court. They’re rolling out new state abortion laws at a dizzying pace. Laws that are clearly illegal under Roe vs. Wade are actually a great strategy. That’s because these regulations have a good chance of winding their way to the Supreme Court, potentially reversing Roe. Here are four new state abortion laws you might have missed this month.
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.
In December, when the election of Donald Trump still felt like a nightmare, we offered five strategies to fight anti-choice laws and rhetoric. Now that President Trump is a frightening reality, it’s more important than ever to defend choice. The battle might seem like a losing one, but Trump and his administration specialize in demoralization. By making things seem hopeless, they hope to subvert the progressive will to keep fighting.
Don’t let them win. Here are five things you can do right now to fight for reproductive freedom. Fight back against anti-choice!
As states across the nation move to constrain women’s abortion rights, U.S. maternal mortality continues to rise. The trend stands in contrast to other nations, which has seen sharp drops in deaths during and after pregnancy.
Republican’s haven’t made a peep about the upswing in maternal mortality. They have, however, moved to increase it by working to slash social safety net programs, remove maternity coverage mandated in the Affordable Care Act, limit access to birth control, and force women to carry to term even pregnancies resulting from rape. Republicans’ stark opposition to any policy that could lower abortion rates or reduce maternal mortality suggests their anti-choice politics have nothing to do with protecting life.
A study that’s gotten little press attention quietly argues that increased access to abortion could save women’s lives. In the midst of a maternity care crisis, the research argues, fewer—not more—abortion regulations could mean the difference between life and death. Republicans continue to attempt to regulate the practice, in spite of data suggesting regulations harm women.
Saving Women’s Lives With Abortion
The study—a doctoral thesis that looked at maternal mortality across the globe—emphasizes that unsafe abortion kills tens of thousands each year. In 2015, more than 300,000 women worldwide died from complications of pregnancy and childbirth.
The dissertation’s recommendations include:
Increasing access to knowledge about abortion. When providers understand abortion and the reasons women seek it, they are more likely to offer quality care.
Allowing midwives, not just doctors, to perform abortions. Research suggests that increasing the number of abortion providers can improve outcomes and lower the number of unsafe abortions.
Increasing access to contraceptives.
Improving women’s access to chemical abortions, including the so-called abortion pill.
Educating medical students about abortion laws. Doing so reduces stigma and increases empathy toward women who seek abortions.
Republican Anti-Abortion Measures Can Kill Women
Pro-life sentiments seem only to extend to the fetus—not the woman who carries it, and certainly not the baby after he or she is born. Their anti-abortion maneuvers read like an exact mirror image of recommendations to save women’s lives.
State legislatures have enacted measures to:
Require doctors to provide women with medically inaccurate abortion information.
Limit which providers can perform abortions, and in which contexts.
Decrease access to the abortion pill.
Force women to carry pregnancies to term, even if those pregnancies threaten their lives.
Under a Trump administration, these laws are likely headed to the Supreme Court, where abortion rights face an uncertain future. As men fight over what women can do with their bodies, women’s lives hang in the balance.