Author: Laura Bassett

U.S. Senators Ask Trump To Stop Being Terrible For Women

THE HUFFINGTON POST WASHINGTON ― A hundred days after an unprecedented number of women around the world marched to protest President Donald Trump, 31 U.S. senators penned a letter asking him to cease his “despicable attacks” on women’s health and women’s rights.  “Fears of attacks on women’s health and the fundamental rights so many women value led to this historic march,” Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) wrote Tuesday in the letter, which was co-signed by 29 other Democrats and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). “Sadly, just 100 days into your administration, many of those fears have already become reality. We ask...

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Democratic Party Draws A Line In The Sand On Abortion Rights

THE HUFFINGTON POST WASHINGTON ― Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez became the first head of the party to demand ideological purity on abortion rights, promising Friday to support only Democratic candidates who back a woman’s right to choose. “Every Democrat, like every American, should support a woman’s right to make her own choices about her body and her health,” Perez said in a statement. “That is not negotiable and should not change city by city or state by state.”  “At a time when women’s rights are under assault from the White House, the Republican Congress, and in states...

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Planned Parenthood Cut Could Doom Health Care Bill In The Senate

  WASHINGTON― Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are warning that a provision “defunding” Planned Parenthood could doom the GOP’s Obamacare replacement plan in the Senate because the language violates a key rule about what can be legislated with a simple majority vote. The “Byrd rule,” named for the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), requires that if a provision’s budgetary effect is “merely incidental” to a budget bill, it does not qualify for the fast-tracked reconciliation process in the Senate. This means that the legislation would have to meet the Senate’s usual 60-vote threshold to pass ― a much more challenging number for the 52 Senate Republicans to meet than a 51-vote majority. The Congressional Budget Office confirmed in an analysis this week that the anti-abortion language in the American Health Care Act would only affect Planned Parenthood, even though the legislation does not specifically name the provider. Because this “defunding” provision appears to be politically motivated and would have little effect on the federal budget, it likely would not survive the Byrd test. “The CBO report confirms what is already well known: Planned Parenthood is singled out for discrimination in Trumpcare for purely ideological reasons,” Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) told The Huffington Post. “There’s very good reason to believe that this is contrary to requirements for expedited floor consideration in the Senate.” Conservative Republican Mike Lee of Utah agrees...

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What It Really Means To ‘Defund’ Planned Parenthood

  WASHINGTON ― House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has vowed to “defund” Planned Parenthood in upcoming legislation. But what he and Republicans in Congress are trying to do is actually very different from what that word suggests. The government does not cut a blank check to Planned Parenthood. The family planning provider is listed nowhere in the federal budget, and a law already prevents taxpayer dollars from being used to pay for abortions. Planned Parenthood is only reimbursed for the non-abortion health care services it provides to low-income women, including birth control, Pap smears, breast exams and STI tests, through Medicaid and the Title X family planning program. What the GOP’s plan would do is prevent Medicaid from working with Planned Parenthood. This would effectively block patients who rely on federally subsidized health care ― about 60 percent of Planned Parenthood’s 2.5 million patients ― from choosing Planned Parenthood for their health care. And by rendering the family planning provider unable to serve more than half its patients, the bill would likely force some of its clinics to shut down. “It’s important to understand that Planned Parenthood works like every hospital, every other health care provider in this country. We get reimbursed for preventative health care, period, end of story,” Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, told The Huffington Post on Wednesday. “Speaker Ryan is threatening to say women in this...

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‘Defunding’ Planned Parenthood Would Really Screw Paul Ryan’s District

  WASHINGTON― If House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) succeeds in his plan to “defund” Planned Parenthood while repealing the Affordable Care Act, his own district will be left unable to meet women’s health care needs. Ryan and Republicans in Congress are aiming to pass legislation that blocks Medicaid recipients from choosing Planned Parenthood for health care and family planning services, including birth control, cancer screenings and sexually transmitted infection testing, because some of the provider’s clinics offer abortion. For many low-income women in rural areas, including Ryan’s district, Planned Parenthood is currently their only option for family planning or women’s health. In Wisconsin, Planned Parenthood runs 21 health centers. It serves about 60,000 patients a year, roughly 50,000 of whom are Medicaid eligible. Taking away the clinics’ ability to serve those on Medicaid “would significantly reduce our ability to provide care to a huge chunk of our patients, which could lead to clinic closures,” said Nicole Safar, Planned Parenthood Wisconsin’s director of government relations. Ryan says federally qualified community health centers outnumber Planned Parenthood clinics and therefore can absorb all of the patients. “They’re in virtually every community providing the same kinds of services,” he said at a recent town hall. But that’s not even true in his own district, where 6,000 women rely on Planned Parenthood for health care, according to the family planning provider. In Racine and Walworth counties,​​ where nearly half of...

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Kellyanne Conway Has Referred To The Fake 'Bowling Green Massacre' Before

WASHINGTON ― Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway said she made an “honest mistake” on MSNBC last week when she invoked the “Bowling Green massacre” ― a purported terrorist attack that never happened ― in defense of the president’s immigration ban. But the Feb. 3 “Hardball” interview wasn’t the first time Conway had mentioned the nonexistent attack. She had referred to the “Bowling Green massacre” in more detail several days earlier in an interview with Cosmopolitan magazine, in which she wrongly claimed that President Barack Obama had called for a “ban on Iraqi refugees” after the incident.  “He did, it’s a fact,” Conway said of Obama. “Why did he do that? He did that for exactly the same reasons. He did that because two Iraqi nationals came to this country, joined ISIS, traveled back to the Middle East to get trained and refine their terrorism skills and come back here and were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre of taking innocent soldiers’ lives away.” Days later, Conway told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews that most Americans hadn’t heard of the invented massacre because “it didn’t get covered.”  Conway’s appears to be basing her story on an actual incident in which two Iraqi men entered the U.S. as refugees in 2009, settled in Kentucky, and were arrested in 2011 for attempting to send weapons and money to the terrorist group al Qaeda for the purpose of...

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States Enacted More Than 60 Abortion Restrictions In 2016

WASHINGTON ― 2016 was a watershed year for reproductive rights: The U.S. Supreme Court delivered a landmark victory to abortion rights supporters in June that warned states not to pass laws that impose a burden on women’s access to abortion without any medical justification. Still, Republican state legislatures enacted more than 60 abortion restrictions this year and introduced more than 500, according to an analysis by the Center for Reproductive Rights. Ten anti-abortion laws were ruled unconstitutional and blocked by the courts, but lawmakers are outpacing the lawsuits and finding new ways to chip away at reproductive rights. “Undoubtedly, this new barrage of attacks shows that the anti-abortion movement has abandoned its pretense of protecting women’s health and safety, instead making it crystal-clear that the end goal is attacking family planning providers and banning abortion care altogether,” the report states. Louisiana’s state legislature launched the strongest attack on abortion rights this year, passing seven new laws that restrict access to the procedure. Among other things, the restrictions triple the state’s mandatory waiting period before an abortion from 24 to 72 hours; they ban the dilation and evacuation procedure, the safest and most common abortion method used in the second trimester; they ban abortions after 20 weeks in cases of genetic abnormalities; and they require women to have their fetal tissue buried or cremated after an abortion. The Center for Reproductive Rights...

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Obama Blocks States From Defunding Planned Parenthood

WASHINGTON ― As a parting gift to women, the Obama administration finalized a rule on Wednesday that will prohibit states from defunding Planned Parenthood for political reasons. Twenty-four Republican-controlled state legislatures have moved to cut public funding to Planned Parenthood over the past five years because some of its clinics provide abortions, even though federal law already blocks the use of public money for abortions. The administration’s new rule, which the Department of Health and Human Services first proposed in September, prevents states from withholding Title X federal family planning funds from Planned Parenthood (or any other health provider) for reasons other than the provider’s effectiveness at delivering family planning services. “President Obama has cemented his legacy as a champion for women’s health,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood. “This rule protects birth control, cancer screenings, STI testing and treatment, and other health care for millions of people.” The Title X program, enacted by President Richard Nixon’s administration in 1970, subsidizes preventive health care and family planning services for 4 million low-income Americans, most of whom have annual incomes below $23,500. Planned Parenthood serves about a third of those patients, using the $70 million a year it receives in Title X grants to provide birth control, cancer screenings and sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment for poor and uninsured patients. But in the last year, politicians have intensified their efforts to defund the nation’s largest family planning...

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