January 11, 2013 — Our monthly quote round up compiles notable comments from key stakeholders in women's health. In today's edition, we feature comments on abortion coverage for servicewomen, calls for removing age restrictions on access to emergency contraception and more.
"After three decades of a policy that discriminated against women who put their lives on the line for us, I am so proud that we will finally begin to provide the coverage our servicewomen deserve." -- Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) in a press release following President Obama's approval of a Department of Defense authorization bill that includes a provision allowing the military's health plan to cover abortion in cases of rape or incest (Shaheen release, 1/3). Shaheen noted that the government still has "a long way to go to ensuring policies are carried out across the military" (Daily Beast, 1/3).
"Against the backdrop of a contentious presidential campaign in which abortion and even contraception were front-burner issues -- to a degree unprecedented in recent memory -- supporters of reproductive health and rights were able to block high-profile attacks on access to abortion in states as diverse as Alabama, Idaho, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Virginia." -- A recent study by the Guttmacher Institute that found states passed 43 abortion restrictions in 2012. The figure is a "sharp decrease" from 2011 but nonetheless the "second-highest number" enacted in a single year, the study noted ("Healthwatch," The Hill, 1/2).
"It is shocking that once again Texas officials are letting politics jeopardize health care access for women." -- Ken Lambrecht, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, in response to a state district court ruling that allowed Texas to move forward with plans to exclude Planned Parenthood from its Women's Health Program because the organization provides abortions. The group sought a temporary restraining order to prevent the state from excluding its clinics from the Texas WHP when it launched on Jan. 1 (Texas Tribune, 12/31/12).
"[The bill] was meant to ban abortion in Michigan, and it was pushed through in a lame-duck session by legislators who were voted out of office because of their extreme views on women's health." -- Planned Parenthood Action Fund and Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards in a statement criticizing Michigan Gov. Rick Synder's (R) approval of a broad measure (HB 5711) that imposes several new restrictions on abortion rights. Separately, Snyder vetoed legislation (SB 1293, SB 1294) that would have barred health plans and employers from providing abortion coverage (Daily Beast, 12/28/12).
"[T]he time is now to read the science and the evidence supporting nonprescription access to emergency contraception. [The products] are safe enough and appropriate enough to be on the shelf -- right between the condoms and the pregnancy-test kits." -- Kirsten Moore, president and CEO of the Reproductive Health Technologies Project, at a media briefing announcing that more than 40 reproductive-rights advocacy groups plan to lobby HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on removing age restrictions on EC access. Last year, Sebelius overruled FDA's approval of nonprescription sale of EC to people of all ages (Washington Times, 12/5/12).
"I actually got really excited when I heard Speaker Boehner tracking up 'Plan B' because I thought, 'Finally, they've made progress on a really important women's health issue that I've been working on.'" -- Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), joking about House Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) reference to a "Plan B" bill, which shared its name with a brand of emergency contraception. Boehner proposed the legislation as part of "fiscal cliff" negotiations to avert mandated spending cuts and tax increases under sequestration ("Healthwatch," The Hill, 12/20/12).
"Savita Halappanavar is dead because bad laws and ideology -- and a breathtaking disregard for women's humanity -- stood in the way of sound medical practice." -- Mallika Dutt, founder and CEO of Breakthrough, in a blog for the Huffington Post about the death of an Indian woman after she was denied an abortion in Ireland (Huffington Post, 11/19). In response to public outrage over Halappanavar's death, Irish officials last month announced that new laws and regulations will be introduced to legalize abortion under circumstances that pose a serious risk to a woman's life (Women's Health Policy Report, 12/19/12).
"The law does not provide for a phased-in or partial expansion." -- HHS, in guidance to governors explaining that the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) does not allow for a partial expansion of Medicaid. Under the Medicaid expansion, individuals with incomes of up to 133% of the federal poverty level will be eligible to enroll in the program beginning in 2014, although several states have said they will not participate ("Healthwatch," The Hill, 12/10/12).
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
Marya Torrez, associate editor & senior reproductive health policy counsel, National Partnership
Melissa Safford, associate editor & policy advocate for reproductive health, National Partnership
Perry Sacks, assistant editor & health program associate, National Partnership
Cindy Romero, assistant editor & communications assistant, National Partnership
Justyn Ware, editor
Amanda Wolfe, editor-in-chief
Heather Drost, Hanna Jaquith, Marcelle Maginnis, Ashley Marchand and Michelle Stuckey, staff writers
Tucker Ball, director of new media, National Partnership