U.S. Senate Votes to Reverse Obama Administration Rule Protecting Women’s Access to Basic Health Care

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Two dozen Senators speak out against the measure, standing up for family planning
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(PRESS RELEASE)  By a vote of 51-50—with Vice President Mike Pence breaking the tie--the U.S. Senate voted today to rescind a rule protecting health care for patients who rely on federal funding for family planning services like birth control and cancer screening through the Title X program.  The U.S. House of Representatives voted to rescind the rule-- which was issued by the Obama Administration in December 2016--last month.  In voting to rescind the rule, Congress is paving the way for state politicians to block women from getting care they need from highly qualified reproductive health care providers.  Women’s health champions in the Senate made a strong showing of opposition to this bill, with two dozen speaking out on the Senate floor in support of access to reproductive health care.

The measure now heads to President Trump, who is expected to sign it. 

“Politicians in Congress will stop at nothing to rob women of their right to basic health care services,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. 

“Today’s vote will allow politicians across the country to determine where a woman can get the health care she needs—if she can get it at all.  Our health and rights should never be up for debate.”

In the past few years, an increasing number of states have tried to block trusted reproductive health care providers—including providers that offer abortion care with non-Title X dollars—from participating in Title X. Since 2011, at least 13 states in which Title X funds flow through the state government have approved restrictions that would exclude qualified providers from the Title X network. Mounting evidence shows that the exclusion of reproductive health care providers from publicly funded health programs harms health outcomes, widens disparities, and erects new barriers to care.  These barriers are particularly pronounced for those who are already have trouble accessing care—including low-income individuals, people living in rural communities, and people of color.

In response to these political attempts to restrict where a woman can get her health care, President Obama issued the rule last year reinforcing that Title X grantees—which in many cases are states—must select subrecipients solely based on their ability to provide care to Title X patients—not based on the political preferences of state lawmakers. The Center for Reproductive Rights submitted comments to the Department of Health and Human Services in support of the rule last October.


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