The downside of the Obama budget

He slashed abstinence-only education, which is fantastic, but unfortunately did not strike governmental restrictions on abortion as hoped. The Center for Reproductive Rights has more:

The Hyde Amendment bans federal funding for abortion in the Medicaid program except under extremely limited circumstances. The President’s budget abandons the millions of women who rely on Medicaid and other federal programs for health services, including federal employees and their spouses and dependents, women served by Indian Health Service, women in the Peace Corps and in federal prisons. It appears to clear the way for the District of Columbia to use its public funds for abortion.

“At a time in our nation’s history when Americans at every income level are losing their jobs and their health benefits, guaranteeing access to affordable, quality healthcare, including reproductive healthcare, is imperative,” stated Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, responding to the abortion funding restrictions maintained in the budget. “For millions of women, federal programs are their only means of getting healthcare. Abortion is the only medically necessary health service excluded from Medicaid coverage. Failure to provide that service—a service that only women need—is discrimination.”

Northup continued, “President Obama made clear during the election that he opposes the Hyde Amendment. And for good reason—over a third of women who rely on Medicaid and are seeking an abortion have been prevented from exercising their constitutional right to an abortion. Hyde unjustly impedes women’s access to timely, quality healthcare and disproportionately harms those women who already face significant barriers to obtaining services. Sound public health policy means protecting the wellbeing of all women.”

The Center is calling on Congress to step up and eliminate all restrictions on abortion funding, which would demonstrate much needed U.S. leadership and commitment to the human rights principles at the heart of reproductive rights – dignity, equality, and the ability to make reproductive decisions freely, without coercion or discrimination.

Contact your Congressperson and urge them to eliminate restrictions on abortion funding.


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About Jill

Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
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20 Responses to The downside of the Obama budget

  1. Question says:

    I’m not a lawyer but wouldn’t it violate the constitution to federally fund abortion since it violates some people’s religious views?

  2. Cara says:

    As far as I’m aware, there is nothing in the constitution that says the government can never do anything that violates a person’s religious views. If it did, I can only imagine the religions that people would be inventing left, right and center to prevent the government from ever doing anything.

    But even if it was there . . . war violates some people’s religious views. So does the death penalty. Oh, and pork does too. But the government funds and/or subsidizes all of those things.

    Shorter answer: no.

  3. Question says:

    Haha good point Cara. Yeh that would be pretty ridiculous. Still though, I can see why Obama would want to be politically sensitive here even if it would be constitutional for him to act. I mean it’s one thing to support fully rights etc. but another to acknowledge that there are deeply held beliefs of others and you ought not make them subsidize it (just as I think making people subsidize war is wrong – it should be paid for by a heavy corporate tax or something, since they often reap the financial benefits of war).

  4. Cara says:

    As sure as Obama acknowledges my deeply held anti-war beliefs and ensures that I no longer have to subsidize it, I’ll perhaps see your point. But I highly doubt he’s about to do that. Which means he doesn’t have much of a leg to stand on other than “it will piss people off.”

    Which is how this always goes. In politics, pissed off people > access to health care for women.

  5. Rebecca says:

    Question, the deal is that the government can’t establish a religion or prevent the free exercise of religion. Funding something that goes against some people’s religious beliefs falls under neither.

  6. Abyss2hope says:

    Question, it would violate the constitution to fund forced abortions.

    If funding any service for those who want or need that service violates some other citizen’s religious views is unconstitutional then the US government could not fund even a penny on healthcare because of Christian Scientists.

    If you use this rationalization to oppose federal funding for abortion then you must also oppose federal funding for healthcare.

  7. N.M. says:

    You are wrong about the sex education piece. The CRR statement says:

    “The budget does, however, propose defunding abstinence-only sex education and creating programs aimed at reducing teen pregnancy”.

    The only thing Obama did, if I understand this correctly, is omit the word “absintence only” from the budget. There’s nothing there about slashing funding. Nor is there a prohibition on Congress adding funding for abstinence only. Besides, most states don’t take federal abstinence-only funds, because the states know it is pointless.

    Even Sarah Palin, as Governor of Alaska, chose not to draw down federal funding for abstinence-only sex education. The one grant the state had received (under the previous administration) she let ‘expire’ – she did not seek to have the grant renewed.

    In other words – it is hardly “fantastic” news that President Obama now agrees with Governor Palin on abstinence only sex ed. This is the least – the very least – he could do for us.

    Meanwhile political chits are exchanged over the bodies of poor women, predominantly women of color.

    the more things change, the more they stay the same, n’est ce pas?

  8. Kristen J. says:

    I can only imagine the religions that people would be inventing left, right and center to prevent the government from ever doing anything.

    Ooo…can I start with Kristology? One commandment – “Thou shall not be an asshat, as defined by Kristen J., in her sole discretion.”

    It would be an awesome religion…No tithing…no services…no priestesses…just don’t be an asshat. How hard is that?

  9. Cara says:

    You are wrong about the sex education piece. The CRR statement says:

    “The budget does, however, propose defunding abstinence-only sex education and creating programs aimed at reducing teen pregnancy”.

    Perhaps I’m misunderstanding your argument, so please do correct me if that’s the case, but the whole budget is a proposal and will be nothing more unless Congress passes it. It would be correct to say “the budget proposes” for every single item in there.

    Of course, there is a big problem here in primarily that Obama has not defined where the funds would go when taken away from abstinence-only. Great, this would remove those horrible restrictions for funding (telling kids that sex outside of marriage is not acceptable and is damaging to society, etc.), but what’s to prevent schools from teaching that shit with the redirected funding anyway? Saying that funds should go to “teen pregnancy prevention programs” is not the same as saying they should go to comprehensive sex education programs.

    A step in the right direction yes, but how far in the right direction is certainly up for debate.

  10. Cara says:

    Ah, sorry. Based on NM’s comment, I thought this was the previous thread actually about abstinence-only funding, where the comment would have been far more appropriate. Please ignore my derail and keep talking about abortion funding!

  11. The Opoponax says:

    I’m not a lawyer but wouldn’t it violate the constitution to federally fund abortion since it violates some people’s religious views?

    If that’s true, then riddle me this:

    Why are public school cafeterias allowed to serve pork?

    Why are publicly funded museums allowed to exhibit representational art?

    Why is the government allowed to fund wars?

  12. Kristen,

    It would be an awesome religion…No tithing…no services…no priestesses…just don’t be an asshat. How hard is that?

    Apparently, it’s too hard for a lot of the people I encounter on the internetz.
    *sigh*

  13. N.M. says:

    Cara, you can read the exact language at
    http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/fy2010/assets/hhs.pdf . If you search for “contracept” you’ll find two mentions – that’s the section you want to read.

    If you do so, you will learn that – contrary to what Feministe is telling you – the new language only says that in order to qualify for federal funding, a program must show that it caneither delay sexual activity, or increase contraceptive use, or decrease teen pregnancy. In other words – we don’t care what you tell those kids, we only care whether it works.

    So if you want to start a program that teaches kids their arms will fall off and their eyeballs will fall out if they have sex – and by the end of the program, the kids are all still virgins – bingo! – you qualify for federal funds. There is nothing in the new language that says kids must be told the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

    Abstinence-only could still be funded, provided the people running the program could come up with some appealing numbers.

    But, you know, like, this news is totally *fantastic.*

  14. Cara says:

    If you do so, you will learn that – contrary to what Feministe is telling you – the new language only says that in order to qualify for federal funding, a program must show that it caneither delay sexual activity, or increase contraceptive use, or decrease teen pregnancy. In other words – we don’t care what you tell those kids, we only care whether it works.

    Soooo . . . you totally missed the part in my comment where I said that there was a big problem with it not being allocated to anything specific? Good to know, thanks for explaining to me what my own blog is telling me and repeating back what I said.

    Again, if you want to talk abstinence-only, take it to the other thread. It’s right before this one, and not hard to find, so stop derailing. There is usually not an excuse for derailing; there is monumentally less of one when what you want to discuss is already being discussed on a different thread at the exact same time.

  15. N.M. says:

    First, Cara, don’t tell me what i can or can’t comment on – unless you are a moderator, of course, in which case have at it. THIS post starts with what I’ll politely call misinformation about Obama “fantastically” slashing funds for abstinence only.

    I am not debating the nuances of abstinence-only funding. I am pointing out that the statement at the beginning of this post is factually incorrect. I am also registering my displeasure that Feministe isn’t correcting his misinformation.

    Better the comfortable falsehood and than the uncomfortable truth, I guess.

  16. Butch Fatale says:

    N.M. – Cara is a moderator. That’s why when you hover your mouse over her name to see her blog, it lists Feministe.

  17. Cara says:

    As Butch Fatale so succinctly pointed out, yes, I am a moderator. And I said to stop fucking derailing more than once. If you’ll read our comment policy, you’ll see that repeat derailers get banned. And three strikes is more than enough, so this is your final warning.

  18. Jill says:

    Thanks Cara.

    N.M., if you want to comment on the abstinence ed part of the budget, comment in the post below — where the text I quote and the link I give make it clear that the current funding status does not ensure that no money will go to abstinence programs.

    It is still very good news, though, that Obama cut out the ear-mark for abstinence-only ed. You can dislike him or argue that it’s not enough, but it’s incorrect to act as if he did nothing or as if this is just the status quo. It’s not. It’s more than what Clinton did.

    But now, back to the Hyde amendment.

  19. janet says:

    It is my understanding that most people who qualify for Medicaid are also eligible for Charity Care at public hospitals. I don’t know how it works with getting an abortion from a hospital or if you have to go to a clinic, but if you can get an abortion from a hospital then when you go in, you tell the hospital admissions that you would like to apply for Charity Care. The application is completed after your visit to the hospital – you get the bill – but they will pay it or most of it. I’ve used Charity Care before for things like emergency room visits. With Medicaid you have to jump through all these hoops, like knowing the right place to get blood drawn, LabCorp or the hospital, or else they won’t pay for it. Medicaid covers things outside the hospital and Charity Care covers what goes on at the hospital. At least, that’s my understanding of it from my own personal experiences being on Medicaid and Charity Care. In any case, I think Medicaid needs an overhaul because barely no one even accepts it anymore, their records of doctors are outdated, and they hardly offer any services at all, and no specialists.

  20. janet says:

    My experience was for non-abortion related health matters though, so I don’t know if Charity Care covers abortions. In any case – they should!

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