Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Limited Service Pregnancy Center Accountability Act (SB 5274 / HB 1366)

House Health Care and Wellness Committee Hearing – January 24, 2010

The legislation that was debated before the House Health Care and Wellness Committee on January 24th is designed to protect women from the deceptive practices at Limited Service Pregnancy Centers (LSPC) or so called Crisis Pregnancy Centers.  Advocates in favor of the bill explained to the Committee that the bill would require LSPCs provide women with accurate information about the services they provide and do not provide; namely that they do not provide abortion services or abortion referral services, do not provide comprehensive birth control information or information regarding contraception, and do not provide medical care for pregnant women.  The bill also requires LSPCs to provide women with their pregnancy tests results immediately and creates measures to protect women’s privacy rights. 

Specifically, the bill provides for the following: LSPCs will be required to (1) protect the privacy of health care information they collect from women; (2) provide pregnancy test results immediately; (3) disclose that they do not provide services or referrals for abortion or comprehensive birth control, and (4) do not provide medical care for pregnant women.
LSPCs prey upon uninsured, poor women – oftentimes teenage girls – providing them with inaccurate medical information designed solely to advance their anti-choice agenda.  They lure women specifically with the offer of free pregnancy tests.  HB 1366 does not seek to silence LSPCs but simply put in place safeguards that will protect vulnerable women from practices that can endanger their health and safety. 

Washington State budget cuts have increased the pressure on vulnerable women seeking free services – this reality only intensifies the need to ensure these women do not become even more susceptible to the LSPC agenda.  LSPCs target the same vulnerable women that the Republican controlled House of Representatives is targeting by trying to expand the discriminatory impact of the Hyde Amendment. 

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Hyde Amendment The Legal Discrimination Against Low-Income Women That Refuses to Go Away

One of the very first legislative priorities for the Republican majority in the House of Representatives is to reinforce and further expand the dangerous and damaging effects of the ban on federal funding of abortions – by codifying the Hyde Amendment.  House Republicans are choosing not to focus on the nation’s economic recovery, or on unemployment – but rather their primary focus is expanding the discriminatory impact of the Hyde Amendment.  This is what House Speaker Boehner thinks America really wants.  Boehner stated yesterday that the No Tax-Payer Funding for Abortion Act is “common sense legislation” reflecting “the will of the people.”  He went on to say that “It’s one of highest legislative priorities and as such I’ve directed it receive the designation of H.R. 3.”

The horrific circumstances surrounding the Philadelphia abortion doctor indicted on eight counts of murder this week continues to demonstrate the dire need for equal access to abortion.  Until abortion access is available to the most vulnerable women in our country, and around the world, these most vulnerable women will continue to be easy prey for modern day back alley abortion providers.  Abortion is the only fundamental constitutional right that is constrained by how much money a women has and how far away she lives from an abortion provider.  Abortion rights should not be available only to women who can afford to pay for access to their constitutional rights.  What other constitutional right is constrained in such a dangerous manner so as to so clearly discriminate against low-income women? 

Yet, the impact of the Hyde Amendment continues to grow; and there seems to be next to no political will to do anything about it.  The result -- poor women bear the greatest burden of this legal discrimination.  The discriminatory effect is felt most acutely by women of color and in immigrant communities.  Until we can remove these legal restrictions that shame women seeking abortions and marginalize abortion care from access to actual health care then doctors and clinics will continue to find vulnerable women to prey upon.