(PRESS RELEASE) Today, the Center for Reproductive Rights called on Congress to protect the health needs of millions of women unjustly and disproportionately affected by current federal funding restrictions on abortion services. The Center's call to action follows yesterday's release of President Obama's budget proposal for fiscal year 2011. The FY11 budget fails to eliminate the dangerous and discriminatory policies that restrict abortion funding for women who rely on federal programs for healthcare. Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, issued this statement in response:
"The tumultuous debate around healthcare reform has underscored the extreme vulnerability of women's health to political agendas. Now more than ever pro-choice lawmakers should be motivated to stand up for the women who elected them and repeal the current federal funding restrictions on abortion. Failure to provide access to abortion services — a medical procedure that only women need, and that one in three will have in their lifetime — is discrimination, plain and simple. Bans on public funding for abortion services further disadvantage women who are already struggling to obtain timely, high-quality healthcare.
"The FY11 proposed budget continues over a generation of discrimination against millions of women who rely on Medicaid or other federal programs for health services, including federal employees and their spouses and dependents, women served by Indian Health Service, women in the Peace Corps and in federal prisons. For most of these women, federal programs are their only means of getting healthcare. Denying them this fundamental part of reproductive healthcare prevents them from exercising their constitutional right to abortion and unfairly sets them a part from women who are insured in the private market.
"The proposed budget also retains the ban on almost all abortion services being provided at military hospitals. A servicewoman whose health is compromised by her pregnancy may not obtain an abortion at a U.S. military medical facility — even if she pays for it herself. This policy is especially harmful to women who are stationed overseas in countries where abortion services are illegal. For them, the Obama budget, if enacted by Congress, is effectively a return to the days before Roe v. Wade. It is unconscionable to deny basic rights and medical care to those who are sacrificing themselves to protect our nation.
"It is well past time for Congress to stop talking about maintaining the 'status quo\' of federal law on public funding for abortion and time to step up and protect the reproductive health of all women. "