Women Not on the Priority List: President Obama’s Budget, Congress, and the Struggle for Affordable Abortion Care
After a significant delay, the president submitted his budget to Congress Wednesday. Reproductive health, rights, and justice advocates were pleased to see that he included language allowing the District of Columbia to use its own funds to cover abortion for low-income women through their Medicaid program. When Medicaid covers pregnancy care but denies coverage for abortion, a woman does not have the ability to make important decisions based on what is best for her and her family. However we feel about abortion, we certainly shouldn't withhold health coverage for a woman just because she's poor.
The president also included abortion coverage for Peace Corps volunteers in cases of rape and incest. The pain caused by sexual violence should never be made worse by denying access to care, so this is an important first step.
While these provisions provide exciting progress, there is still much more work to be done in order to ensure that no woman is denied health coverage for abortion because of her income, her immigration status, or her type of insurance.
Sadly, the president's budget continued to withhold coverage for women who use benefits through federal health programs, including federal employees and their dependents, women in federal prisons, Native American women who access care through Indian Health Services, and low-income women with coverage through the federal Medicaid program. The ongoing denial of federal health-care assistance for abortion pushes many women and their families further into poverty and leaves them unable to access the care they need.