“The National Network of Abortion Funds Denounces the Vitter Amendment”

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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 – and all reproductive health care – is a reality. The Network coordinates The Hyde – 30 Years is Enough! Campaign, a national coalition of more than 70 social justice organizations, dedicated to repealing the Hyde Amendment.

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0 Responses to “The National Network of Abortion Funds Denounces the Vitter Amendment”

  1. jve2102 says:

    I never knew about this before. It sounds like a useful example of a control population to judge the claims that restricting abortions will lead to unsafe backyard procedures. Is there any evidence that this actually happens in this community? If not, then surely it damages the claim that abortion for reasons other than those allowed for would actually have those consequences in this day and age (when knowledge is better both of the risks of unsanitary abortion and birth control options, social stigma is reduced or eliminated and wages and welfare gaps to women are closing)?

    I’m not saying I supoprt treating Indian women differently from other Americans, far from it. I think the rules should be the same for all. But since they are not (which is news to me) I think this is an invaluable opportunity to judge the claims of those who support abortion on-demand rather than for restricted reasons. If you could show thata it really did cause backyard abortions in Indian communities marginals like myself (who don’t want to ban abortion but don’t like it being as easy to get as a tylenol) might get on board.