(PRESS RELEASE) President Barack Obama’s proposed FY2017 budget released yesterday includes steps toward expanding and promoting reproductive health care coverage in the U.S. and globally, but ignores repeated calls by the Center for Reproductive Rights and others to repeal a harmful policy that restricts Medicaid coverage for abortion services to extremely limited circumstances.
The positive steps include fixing an unfair federal policy barring the District of Columbia from using its own locally-raised funds to cover abortion services for low-income women and providing a modest increase of $13.5 million over FY 2016 levels for low-income family-planning services through the Title X family planning program. The proposed budget would also restore funding to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which suffered a 7% cut in the FY2016 omnibus budget.
However, the President’s budget retains a long-standing harmful policy known as the Hyde Amendment, which bars those enrolled in the Medicaid and Medicare health insurance programs from accessing abortion services. The Hyde Amendment creates an often insurmountable barrier for people already struggling to make ends meet, and disproportionately affects people of color, young people, immigrants, and those who live in rural or underserved communities.
Said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights:
“We applaud the important steps forward for women at home and abroad in the President’s budget this year, including a much needed increase in the nation’s family planning program and the restoration of funding for the United Nations Population Fund.
“It’s disappointing this year’s budget includes the cruel and discriminatory Hyde Amendment, which has for too long prevented women from exercising their constitutionally-protected right to abortion.
“We need a budget that makes a national priority of protecting a woman’s right to access reproductive health care regardless of her income, insurance coverage, or zip code.”
Today’s proposal is the final budget of President Obama’s Administration. Since entering office, the President has consistently demonstrated support for access to contraception, women’s preventive health services, and comprehensive sexuality education in his budget proposals. He has stood against anti-choice politicians who promote ineffective abstinence-only programs in our nation’s schools and who would cut support for contraceptive care for low-income Americans, forcing them to forego the reproductive health services they need to be healthy.
President Obama also demonstrated leadership in overturning a long-standing total ban on abortion coverage for Peace Corps volunteers by eliminating it in his budget proposals beginning in FY2014. Today, volunteers have limited access to abortion coverage, a first step toward full coverage in all federal insurance and health care programs.