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Thursday
Jul262018

Trump’s rule would undermine the Title X family planning program

SCOTUS nomination threatens women’s health
The nomination of conservative Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court is the latest threat to women’s health from the Trump administration. If confirmed by the Senate, Kavanaugh would tilt the balance of the Supreme Court against reproductive rights and health care access. In the next few years, the Supreme Court could decide the future of Roe v. Wade, protections for people with pre-existing conditions and requirements for what health plans must cover.
 
We can’t be silent! The stakes are far too high. What can you do? Tell your senators that the next member of the Supreme Court must be committed to doing the right thing for women’s health. Call your senators at (202) 224-3121 or attend a town hall meeting while your senators are back in their home states for recess during the week of August 6.  It’s particularly important if your senator is one of the Republicans who might be persuaded to vote against the nomination: Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. It’s also important if your senator is one of the following red-state Democrats:  Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Jon Tester of Montana.

You can participate in a #SaveSCOTUS event near you. You can also join in the upcomingUnite for Justice Day of Action on August 26 – a date chosen for its significance as Women’s Equality Day. Activities will take place in all 50 states. People all across the country are signing up to host events. If you don’t see an event in your area, sign up to host one! You can find or create an event near you here.
 
How could SCOTUS undermine protections for people with pre-existing conditions?
 
In a lawsuit to overturn the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a group of Republican-led states argues that because Congress repealed the individual mandate’s tax penalty as part of the GOP tax law, all of the ACA is now invalid. The Trump administration refused to defend current law and, instead, is calling for the elimination of “guaranteed issue” and “community rating” – both key ACA protections for people with pre-existing conditions.  These provisions state that an individual cannot be denied an insurance plan, and that the price of a health plan cannot be based on an individual’s medical history.

Polls have consistently showed that health care is a top issue in the upcoming midterm elections. Most recently, the Kaiser Family Foundation reported that 64 percent of voters do not want the Supreme Court to overturn protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
 
With a conservative district judge presiding over the case, the case will likely be appealed by a coalition of Democratic state attorneys general to the conservative 5th Circuit before making its way to the Supreme Court. Confirming Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court could mean a ruling that sends us back to pre-ACA times when women were routinely charged higher premiums or denied coverage for things like seeking treatment for domestic or sexual violence, having a cesarean birth, or being pregnant.
 
Another case challenging the administration’s finalized rule to expand the sale of unregulated “junk” health insurance, in the form of association health plans, could make its way to the high court. Association health plans are not required to cover the ACA-mandated 10 essential health benefits, such as maternity care, prescription drugs, and treatment for mental health and substance use disorders.
 
Without the ACA’s core protections for pre-existing conditions and with the entrance of “junk” health plans into the market, insurance companies could charge higher premiums to women, older adults, residents of rural areas and anyone else the insurance industry thinks may have higher health care costs. They could also deny coverage outright to people with pre-existing conditions. Cheaper “junk” plans will also siphon off young and healthy people, leaving behind an older and sicker pool of people in ACA plans. This sabotage will further destabilize ACA markets and drive up premiums.
 
Kavanaugh’s record suggests he might not hold the Trump administration accountable to uphold the ACA. In 2011, Kavanaugh had said, “Under the Constitution, the President may decline to enforce a statute that regulates private individuals when the President deems the statute unconstitutional, even if a court has held or would hold the statute constitutional.” In other words, he believes a president can choose which parts of the law to enforce. In the era of Trump, this view is particularly alarming and poses a direct threat to the ACA.
SCOTUS nomination threatens Roe v. Wade
 
With Kavanaugh’s nomination, Donald Trump fulfilled his campaign promise that he would only nominate Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark legal decision that established a constitutional right to abortion in 1973. A number of extreme anti-abortion state laws could make their way to the Supreme Court in the coming years, serving as an opportunity for the Supreme Court to potentially gut or overturn Roe.

Kavanaugh has already made clear his position on abortion rights. He gave a speech praising Justice Rehnquist’s dissent in Roe v. Wade, calling the decision that created the constitutional right to abortion part of a "general tide of freewheeling judicial creation of un-enumerated rights that were not rooted in the nation's history and tradition." We’ve alsohighlighted Kavanaugh’s dissent in last fall’s Garza v. Hargan case about an undocumented immigrant minor seeking an abortion. Kavanaugh dissented even though the minor woman met all the conditions to qualify for an abortion.
 
Kavanaugh’s views on abortion and his anticipated willingness to overturn Roe are very much out of touch with the majority of Americans’ views on abortion. As shown below, a recent NBC News and Wall Street Journal poll found that 71% of Americans support Roe, including a majority (52%) of Republicans, 76% of independents, and 88% of Democrats. Given that Americans from across the political spectrum support upholding the constitutional right to abortion, we must urge the Senate to reject any nominee who will take women backwards and diminish our right to self-determination.
 
What if we lose Roe? Looking to the states
 
If Roe v. Wade were overturned, what might abortion rights and access look like across the country? In a “post-Roe” world, the authority to regulate abortion would go to the states. States could then act on their own to limit or expand access to abortion, creating a patchwork of state laws and a world in which a woman’s zip code determines her ability to access safe and legal abortion. Already, a woman’s ability to get an abortion varies greatly based on where she is, and who she is. Due to restrictive state abortion laws, racial and socioeconomic disparities, age, immigration status, geographic barriers and other factors, too many women are already living in a post-Roe world in which it’s virtually impossible to get the care to which they are constitutionally entitled.
 
As we’ve noted in a previous newsletter, 17 states have laws that could be used to restrict the right to legal abortion if Roe is overturned, with four of those positioned to automatically ban abortion outright, according to the Guttmacher Institute. In addition, 10 states – including some blue states like Massachusetts and New Mexico – have pre-Roe abortion bans on the books. These laws could be enforced if Roe were overturned. Seven states have laws indicating that in the absence of Roe, they will restrict the right to legal abortion to the maximum extent legally permitted by the Supreme Court.
 
Not all of the news out of states is bad, though. Nine states – including California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Nebraska, Oregon, and Washington – have taken the opposite approach, adopting laws that protect the right to abortion at the state level prior to viability or when necessary to protect the life or health of the woman.
 
With the looming threat to Roe, a number of advocates in states across the country are working to rid their state of archaic, pre-Roe abortion bans that are still on the books.RWV’s Boston-based regional coordinator, NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, is doing just that. NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts worked to help build public support for the “NASTY Woman Act,” or “An Act Negating Archaic Statues Targeting Young Women,” which was recently passed and sent to Governor Charlie Baker’s desk. S. 2260 would repeal a number of harmful, outdated statutes, including a law that criminalizes abortion and distributing information about abortion.
 
In New York, RWV-NY is working alongside its women’s health colleagues to continue to push for the Reproductive Health Act, which would secure and protect access to abortion in New York by strengthening and updating New York state law and bringing it in line with the standard of Roe v. Wade. It would protect health care providers who perform abortion services, and treat abortion as health care, not a criminal act. This year, the Reproductive Health Act was passed by the New York State Assembly, but failed to pass in the Senate.
 
The Supreme Court vacancy provides a renewed sense of urgency to bolster our advocacy efforts to protect reproductive health rights and access in the states. 
 
Time to submit your comments opposing Trump’s Title X rule!
 
Raising Women’s Voices was on Capitol Hill this week, joining a march in protest of the Trump administration’s harmful proposed rule that would undermine the nation’s Title X family planning program.

The July 31 deadline for submitting your comments on Trump’s Title X rule is fast approaching! Raising Women’s Voices has created a Take Action page on the Community Catalyst website where you can find talking points about this harmful proposed rule and a direct link to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) website where you can submit comments opposing this rule. 

Take action today! CLICK HERE to submit your comments to HHS. (Don’t worry that the HHS page says the comments are about “Compliance with Statutory Program Integrity Requirements.” That’s just the bureaucratic way of describing the proposed Title X rule.

Tell HHS this rule would compromise the quality and scope of family planning services patients can receive from Title X clinics, allow biased counseling and deny patients the full information they need to make informed decisions about their reproductive health. It would also push out of the Title X network those clinics, such as Planned Parenthood health centers, that provide abortions on site using separate funds. Tell HHS to withdraw the proposed rule because of the serious harm it would do to patients, especially those who are low income, women of color and LGBTQ people.

 

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