Last week the Labor, Education, Health, and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee released a draft of the fiscal year 2012 Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Act. Ranking subcommittee member Representative Rosa Delauro of Connecticut issued a statement analyzing what she sees as a grave violation of fiscal responsibility.
In it, she singles out Subcommittee Chairman Denny Rehberg (R-MT) as acting on his own opinions and those of other similarly minded representatives. According to Rep. Delauro this draft has yet to be discussed in the subcommittee.
In summary this bill would:
- Prohibit federal funding for Planned Parenthood through programs such as Medicaid which provides low-income women with preventive health care, including birth control, breast and cervical cancer screenings, annual exams, and STI testing and treatment;
- Eliminate funding for the Title X Family Planning Program, which provides access to birth control, cancer screenings, and other family planning services to five million low-income women each year, and through which women can avoid unintended pregnancies;
- Ban insurance coverage of abortion in the new health exchanges under the Affordable Care Act — taking away a common insurance benefit most women currently have;
- Prevent the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (the health care reform law passed last year by Congress), and eliminate the new benefits that include insurance coverage of women’s preventive services like mammograms, cancer screenings, and birth control with no additional co-pays;
- Cut the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative by $64.79 million — from $ 104.79 million to $40 million — stipulating that $20 million of that money must be used for grants to provide ineffective, abstinence-only education;
- And put in place a sweeping new refusal provision that undermines patients’ access to quality health care, effectively imposing a religious ideology test on access to essential care.
All this in the name of “fiscal responsibility.” The United States continues to have one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy of the industrialized world, as well as the maternal mortality rate of the industrialized world and one of the highest rates of infant mortality. Lack of access to both sex education and contraception will, without any doubt, lead to an increase in unplanned and unwanted pregnancy. This bill also cuts funding to the Center of Disease Control and restricts education reform and labor relations, making not only pregnancy and childbirth difficult to pay for, but the rest of a child’s life.
It is great to know that legislators like Rosa DeLauro have the same opinion. Hopefully her words will stand out to other subcommittee members and the bill in its current form will not the bill that is passed. Rep. Delauro’s final statements:
“In conclusion, the Rehberg plan fails to adequately address our nation’s needs in the midst of economic crisis, while bogging down the process with politically driven legislative riders. I cannot support this measure in its current form and am eager to engage with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and in both houses of Congress to find solutions that will make the best use of federal resources in pursuit of job creation and economic growth, as well as in support of the neediest Americans.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself.