Gillibrand, Senate Democrats Speak out Against Republican Efforts to Restrict Women's Access to Health Care

Press Release

By:  Kirsten Gillibrand
Date: Feb. 8, 2011
Location: Washington, DC

At a press conference today, Senate Democrats spoke out to express their opposition to legislation being pushed by House Republicans this week that would endanger women's health by severely limiting their access to affordable health care and reproductive health services.

U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Patty Murray (D-WA), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Al Franken (D-MN) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) called on House Republicans to join in efforts to create jobs rather than pursuing an extreme agenda that would end a decades-long compromise on choice, raise taxes on women and businesses that have or want insurance that covers reproductive health care and restrict the ability of women to use their own personal funds to buy insurance that includes reproductive health services.

"Republicans claim that they want to keep government out of people's lives, but they insist on asserting their authority in the lives of women," Senator Gillibrand said. "They've been in power only a few weeks, yet the Republicans have already made depriving women of the medical care they need and deserve one of their primary goals. This agenda disregards women's rights and restricts the ability of women to access affordable health care. Clearly, the Republican House is not focusing on creating jobs or growing our economy, but making the degradation of women's health care a top priority."

Senator Boxer said, "We are sending a clear message to House Republicans that their agenda on women's health is extreme, it breaks faith with a decades-long bipartisan compromise and it risks the health and lives of women. It also punishes women and businesses with a tax hike if they wish to keep or buy insurance that covers a full range of reproductive health care. We want the women and families of America to know that we will continue to defend women's health and, with a bipartisan effort, we will stop an agenda that would do them harm."

"It's telling that this bill, one of the very first bills House Republicans have introduced, is not on jobs or our economic recovery, it's on sweeping cuts to insurance coverage for abortions," said Senator Murray. "For all their talk about the size of government, it's still very clear that they want government to come between women and their personal health care choices. I am looking forward to standing up to this extreme legislation should it make its way to the Senate."

"The Republican-led House has launched an outrageous assault on women's rights and wants to take away the rights of our sisters, daughters and granddaughters to make their own health care decisions," Senator Lautenberg said. "Once again, we are seeing a male-o-garchy trying to turn the clock back on women's health. I remain committed to ensuring that American women always have the right to choose what's best for their own lives and their own bodies."

"I can't understand why some in Congress are focusing their energies on further restricting women's access to reproductive care -- instead of working to create jobs," said Senator Franken. "The proposed legislation would end the decades-long compromise on choice, stopping women from using their own funds to buy health insurance that covers reproductive care. This is simply unacceptable."

"This measure is an unprecedented assault on women's health," Senator Blumenthal said. "It creates reprehensible risks for the health of countless women across the country, puts them in jeopardy of losing vital health services, and it imperils not just them, but their families."

Below are some of the extreme provisions in House Republicans' legislation that would endanger women's health and hurt American families:

* Women would be restricted from using their own personal funds to purchase insurance that covers a full range of reproductive health care. (H.R.3, H.R.358)

* Families would be barred from using their Flexible Spending Accounts or Health Savings Accounts to pay for a full range of reproductive health care. (H.R.3)

* Small businesses that receive a tax credit to buy health insurance for their employees would lose their tax credit if they choose a plan that covers reproductive health care. (H.R.3)

* People who have lost their jobs because of trade with foreign countries would no longer be able to use their Health Coverage Tax Credit to buy any insurance plan that covers a full range of reproductive health care. (H.R.3)

* According to the National Women's Law Center, for the first time in decades, there would no longer be a requirement that states provide abortions to poor women who are victims of rape or incest, or need the procedure to save their life. (H.R.3)

* Hospitals would no longer have to provide pregnant women who need urgent, emergency care with life-saving procedures. (H.R.358)

* Due to restrictions on the Title X family planning program, millions of women would lose access to mammograms, other cancer screenings, and essential health services. (H.R.217)

* The self-employed who deduct health care costs from their taxes would no longer be able to do so if they have a plan that covers a full range of reproductive health care. (H.R. 3)

* Those who pay health insurance premiums with pre-tax dollars would not be able to buy or keep insurance plans that cover a full range of reproductive health care. (H.R.3)

* The District of Columbia would no longer be allowed to spend its own tax dollars on providing women in D.C. a full range of reproductive health care. (H.R.3)

* The legislation, as originally proposed, would have redefined rape and incest for purposes of federal funding to take away access to the full range of reproductive health care for some victims of rape and incest. (H.R.3, H.R.358)