Lowey Calls on GOP to Focus on Jobs, Not Restricting Women’s Health Choices

02/14/11

(WHITE PLAINS) – Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-Westchester/Rockland) was joined today by Westchester County community organizations in calling on Republican Congressional leadership to focus on the issues most important to American people – creating jobs and getting our economy on track – rather than restricting women’s health choices.

“As I visit all the communities of my district, I am asked about high unemployment, how government can help promote job growth, and how we can get the economy working again for families trying to make ends meet,” said Lowey.  “Not once have I heard that it is important for the government to get to work on restricting women’s health choices and denying basic care.  It is shocking to me that at a time of high unemployment and enormous economic challenges ahead of us, Congressional leaders are focusing on extreme and divisive social issues.  It must stop now.”

H.R. 3, the so-called “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” would eliminate tax breaks for private employers who provide health coverage if their plans offer the full range of women’s health services, and would forbid women who use a flexible spending plan to use pre-tax dollars on certain legal health procedures.  Federal law already prohibits use of taxpayer funds for abortion services.  H.R. 3 would also undercut an important exemption on this ban by re-defining rape in a way that could limit health choices for victims of statutory rape and other crimes.

Another bill, the so-called “Protect Life Act” would prohibit Americans who receive insurance through state exchanges from purchasing health plans that cover the full range of health services, even though they would already pay for that coverage with their own money.  It would also permit hospitals to refuse to perform abortions even if necessary to save the life of the mother.

Finally, Congressional leadership has proposed eliminating federal funding for Title X of the Public Health Service Act.  This would deny federal funding for health care providers that provide cancer screenings, Pap Smears, contraception, immunizations, blood-pressure testing, and much more if they also provide the full range of women’s health services.  Title X funding has played a critical role in reducing unintended pregnancies, decreasing infant mortality, and detecting cancer at early stages.

“The Pence and Smith bills are the most devastating legislative assaults on women’s health care in American history,” said Reina Schiffrin, CEO of Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic.  “These ideological attacks overlook the fact that Planned Parenthood doesmore to prevent unintended pregnancies than any other organization.”

“The YWCAs in New York are proud to be joining Congresswoman Lowey and our sister organizations in calling for the leadership of the House of Representatives to focus on the real work that they were elected to do,” said Maria Imperial, CEO of the YWCA White Plains and Central Westchester.  “The Gender Wage Gap continues. Women and their families are living in poverty. We need to address these issues rather than attacking healthcare options for women.  Women make up nearly 50% of this nation’s workforce. They need to be trained for our new economy; we don’t need to work on restricting their rights. The conversation has to change now. We simply cannot afford it any more. “

May Krukiel, Director of the Westchester Women’s Agenda, said, “Reproductive freedom is the law of the land.  Efforts to restrict access to reproductive health care should be seen as illegal and cannot be tolerated.”

“The newly-elected reactionary Congress is determined to destroy women’s health. Instead of creating jobs, these extremists are savaging women’s health care. They want to prevent millions of  women from obtaining health insurance coverage for abortion services – even insurance paid for with private dollars or provided by employers in the private marketplace.  These zealots are amending a law decades old to make it legal for doctors and hospitals to stand by and allow pregnant women to die if intervention to save them would kill the fetus. Congresswoman Lowey and our other pro-choice representatives are fighting off three devastating bills plus budget cuts as we speak. We stand with Congresswoman Lowey and our allies to defend the rights of America’s women,” stated Catherine Lederer-Plaskett, President, WCLA – Choice Matters.

More than one million women in the United States are unemployed.  The number of abortions in the United States decreased from 2000 to 2008, the most recent year for which data is available.

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