(PRESS RELEASE) Today, the Senate Finance Committee rejected anti-choice amendments intended to limit women's access to abortion, including an amendment offered by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) that would have greatly extended the reach of federal funding restrictions for abortion as part of the healthcare reform bill now being considered in the committee. Center for Reproductive Rights President Nancy Northup issued this statement in response:
"The Senate Finance Committee took a critical step forward today in holding the line on the current compromise on abortion coverage in the healthcare reform bill. We expect that when health legislation finally hits the floor, the full Senate will similarly refrain from playing political games with women's health.
"Between the less-than-optimal compromise of the Capps Amendment and other hostile amendments threatening to ban abortion coverage altogether, women's health cannot become a casualty of the debate over health reform. The Capps Amendment is hardly a win for women in this country. The amendment is an honest and credible attempt to neutralize the debate over abortion by ensuring no federal monies are used to pay for abortion services. But ultimately this compromise leaves abortion coverage vulnerable to red tape. Under Capps, private insurers will be forced to segregate premiums and co-pays from government funds for the first time (except in rare cases) -- a requirement which could ultimately discourage private insurers from offering abortion coverage at all.
"The more damaging amendments still under consideration would require women to purchase additional abortion coverage above and beyond their primary benefits package. Research has shown that these "abortion riders," currently in five states, are ineffective. Women are unlikely to pay additional money up front for abortion coverage because they don\'t plan on having an unintended pregnancy or a pregnancy that endangers their health. And for that reason, health insurers are unlikely to even offer the separate rider as an option.
"Abortion is a common medical procedure for women and is her constitutional right. Yet the anti-choice agenda is to extend the punishing restrictions banning federal funding for abortion into the private market. Under their amendments, millions of women could lose benefits they already have or be forced to buy insurance that does not meet all of their medical needs. American women cannot afford to give any more ground -- we call on our representatives to dispense with the politics and protect our rights and our health."