From the FLP Mailbox:
The National Network of Abortion Funds condemns passage of the Vitter Amendment (S.Amdt. 3896) as part of the Indian Health Services Act (S.1200). Passed by the Senate earlier this week, the amendment adds language to the Indian Health Services Act prohibiting the use of IHS funds for abortion services except in cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment. This legislation duplicates existing policy which already unfairly restricts coverage of abortion in the Indian Health Service. IHS is subject to the Hyde Amendment, first passed in 1976, which prohibits federal Medicaid dollars from being used to pay for abortion, except in cases of rape, incest and danger to the life of the woman.
For the more than 12 million women who depend on Medicaid and other federal programs, the impact of the Hyde Amendment and the funding bans enacted in 33 states is staggering. Prior to 1976, when Medicaid funds paid for abortion nationally, one-third of all abortions were fully covered. Since the Hyde Amendment took away abortion coverage, federal Medicaid has paid for less than one percent of abortions.
The restrictions in Vitter and Hyde unfairly discriminate against Native American women for whom the Indian Health Service is their primary healthcare provider. A survey conducted by the Native American Women’s Health Education Resources Center (NAWHERC) in 2002 found widespread non-compliance and confusion about the abortion restrictions. 85% of the service units contacted denied women services even in cases where they were legally entitled to coverage.
Historically, Native American women have faced other governmental policies restricting their reproductive lives. Native American children were removed from their communities and placed by the government in non-Indian boarding schools, foster homes and adoptive families. In the 1970s, involuntary sterilization by Indian Health Services was exposed as a civil rights violation in a lawsuit brought by Norma Jean Serena of the Creek-Shawnee. In the 1980s, although Depo Provera was banned by the FDA because of inadequate health and safety studies, it was administered to Native American women who were said to be”mentally impaired,”without their consent.
We oppose the Vitter and Hyde Amendments and all restrictive legislation that undermines a woman’s ability to make her own decisions about childbearing and her health.”All women must have the power and resources to make healthy decisions about their bodies and their families; it’s a matter of dignity and justice”said Stephanie Poggi, Executive Director of the National Network of Abortion Funds.
The National Network of Abortion Funds is an association of more than 100 community-based groups in 43 states that provide financial assistance to low-income women seeking abortions. Each year, member groups of the Network raise over $2.5 million and help more than 20,000 women and girls nationwide. The Network provides support and training to its member Funds and advocates for a humane future where public funding of abortion â€“ and all reproductive health care â€“ is a reality. The Network coordinates The Hyde â€“ 30 Years is Enough! Campaign, a national coalition of more than 70 social justice organizations, dedicated to repealing the Hyde Amendment.