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Category: Politics, Health, Reproductive Rights

On H.R. 3: "Quality Healthcare is a Right, Not a Privilege"

February 11, 2011

Following on the heels of media coverage surrounding accusations that Dr. Kermit Gosnell performed illegal live-birth abortions that endangered the lives of low-income women, Representative Christopher Smith of New Jersey presented a bill that would place further restrictions on the availability of legal abortions.

Women of low socioeconomic status, especially immigrants and those in historically marginalized communities, are already faced with far too few options when seeking a reputable health care provider to perform an abortion. If passed, the horrors such as those seen in Dr. Gosnell’s practice may become not only a last resort, but the only option for many women. The bill entitled “H.R. 3: No Taxpayer Funding of Abortion" would not only codify the Hyde Amendment, which must currently be renewed annually, but would go further in limiting abortion access for women by removing all federal funding for any health care provider that offers abortion as part of their health care plan.

According to Planned Parenthood, “Health insurance industry experts have repeatedly stated that this restriction would result in private health insurance companies dropping coverage.” This could potentially leave millions of women without the coverage they deserve. In addition to removing federal funding, individuals with private health plans offering abortions and small businesses that offer their employees comprehensive health insurance coverage would face tax penalties because they would no longer be able to claim existing deductions, such as the Health Coverage Tax Credit for individuals and the Small Business Health Tax Credit for businesses.

For women not given the option of a comprehensive insurance plan or those who elect not to pay for expensive private insurance with increased taxes, they could someday be faced with the unexpected crisis of paying for an abortion out-of-pocket, a cost that can run between $500-1,000 for a first trimester procedure and up to $10,000 for a second-trimester procedure.

In a Philadelphia Tribune article entitled “Poor, Minorities Abortion Victims,” State Senator Vincent Hughes argues that while Dr. Gosnell’s actions are horrific and cannot be minimized, they bring to light a broader issue concerning quality healthcare for women. “Most of Gosnell’s victims were Black women,” he said. “Women from low-income environments. While words cannot express the reprehensible nature under which Gosnell operated, the broader issue is quality healthcare, especially for low-income women. We can’t lose sight of that in the harsh light of these allegations. Yesterday House Republicans moved to try and repeal healthcare reform, to return us to the same status quo healthcare that clearly did not serve Gosnell’s patients...These women were from low-income environments where access to quality healthcare is problematic. They should not have been victimized.”

Brenda Shelton Dunston, Executive Director of the Philadelphia Black Women’s Health Project, adds, “There is a need for African-American women to have access to medical providers who will perform a safe abortion if it’s needed. But women of all ethnicities should not have to be concerned whether a physician will provide quality care.... Quality healthcare is a right, not a privilege.”

Please help to stop Speaker John Boehner and House Republicans from limiting women’s access to quality healthcare and inhibiting our right to choose. Add your name to the Stop HR3 petition now to prevent this scary possibility from becoming a reality.

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