The Republican House Members are at it again. Tuesday Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT) released a labor, health, and education spending bill. This bill [PDF] does the following things:
ü Allows employers to deny contraceptive and health coverage for “moral reasons”
ü Defunds Planned Parenthood’s (PP) non-abortion related services
ü Withdraws all PP funding pending confirmation that they no longer offer any abortions.
ü Provides grants for $20 million to spend on abstinence-only education
ü Defunds all Title X funding.
ü Increases restrictions on educating abortion physicians beyond current law
ü Blocks future Affordable Care Act funds from being used to “implement, administer, enforce, or further the provisions”
Under this legislation, any issuer or sponsor of a group health insurance plan can refuse to cover any health care service they want by citing “moral reasons.” The wording of the legislation does not exclude any procedure, life-saving measure or medication, although it does seem to confine the restrictions to women’s health issues.
This bill would remove all funding from Planned Parenthood and Title X for all services until and unless it can certify that it no longer offers abortions, despite the fact that federal funding is restricted in funding abortions under the Hyde Amendment Read more facts here.
However, this legislation goes beyond abortion restrictions and women’s health issues because Planned Parenthood also funds men’s health issues such as:
- checkups for reproductive or sexual health problems
- colon cancer screening
- erectile dysfunction services, including education, exams, treatment, and referral
- male infertility screening and referral
- premature ejaculation services, including education, exams, treatment, and referral
- routine physical exams
- testicular cancer screenings
- prostate cancer screenings
- urinary tract infections testing and treatment
As well as attacking Planned Parenthood, it is no small matter that the term “moral reasons” is not defined in this bill. That leaves the gap wide-open for interpretation. Imagine that a woman was diagnosed with cervical, uterine or ovarian cancer and needed to have a hysterectomy. Under this bill, the issuer or sponsor of an Insurance plan could potentially “opt out” of providing a policy that covered this life-saving procedure because it could result in sterility and thus fall into the category of birth control and “moral reasons”.
Additionally this bill is trying to prevent any women-specific health care from being included in the Affordable Healthcare Act that hasn’t yet gone into effect.
The war on women continues to be a priority for Republican legislatures who have via Republican-dominated states in the first half of 2012 have enacted 95 new provisions related to reproductive health and rights specifically targeting women.
In addition to attempting to legislate his personal religious-driven morality Rep Rheberg is playing politics with the health of both men and women in the nation. Our representatives should write legislation that bans bills like this one. Whether one falls on the side of pro-choice or anti-choice, this bill has no chance of passing and is nothing more than a waste of government resources and time.