Trumpcare Bill Flops
Knowing that it didn’t have enough support from either side of the aisle, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan pulled the American Health Care Act (AHCA)— aka Trumpcare—bill in March, before Congress could vote on it.
Part of the bill was aimed at Planned Parenthood—the organization and its affiliates would lose federal Medicaid reimbursements for one year, and tax credits for insurance plans would not be honored if said plans included abortion services. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that cutting Medicaid reimbursements to Planned Parenthood for one year would cost taxpayers $21 million in increased Medicaid spending.
For now, the Affordable Care Act remains in place, although the attacks are sure to continue.
Title X Rule Changes
In his last days as president, Barack Obama instituted a rule through the Department of Health and Human Services that made it illegal for states to refuse Title X funds to family planning clinics simply because they offer abortion services. Well, Trump just nixed that, signing a bill on April 13 that was so partisan it needed Mike Pence’s tie-breaking vote in the Senate. Now states can go right back to discriminating against Planned Parenthood when providing Title X grants.
Maryland has become the first state to say it will continue to provide Title X grants based on provider eligibility and not on whether a clinic provides abortion. We are hopeful that more states will follow suit.
About 4 million low-income Americans are served by Title X each year—1.5 million of them by Planned Parenthood affiliates.
“She Decides” Campaign Raises Funds to Mitigate Trump Gag Rule Losses
In response to the imposition of Trump’s Global Gag Rule, Netherlands Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Lilianne Ploumen, introduced “She Decides” in late January. The initiative is accepting donations from governments, foundations, and individuals to replace at least some of the U.S. international family planning aid that will be lost by organizations refusing to comply with the atrocious and expanded Gag Rule that Trump imposed on his first full day in office.
So far, She Decides has raised $190 million. Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden have together pledged more than $110 million; the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pledged $20 million; an anonymous private donor gave $50 million; and Sir Christopher Hohn, billionaire founder of the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, gave $10 million.
The gesture is enormous and the funding will save lives. It has raised, however, less than a third of what the U.S. typically gives in international family planning aid. Which is to say that the Gag Rule will still end lives, despite the emergency funding response of the generous donors to She Decides.
Birth Control Saves Bigly
What if all women had the same levels of highly effective contraceptive use as the women in the Planned Parenthood study* clinics?
That is the question researchers at Child Trends set out to answer, using data from a UCSF study (see footnote) and a simulation model “designed to reproduce fertility-related behaviors and outcomes among U.S. women of child-bearing age.”
The answer is nothing short of what we would expect.
The simulation reduced unintended pregnancies by 64 percent, unintended births by 63 percent, and abortions by 67 percent. These outcomes would result in an annual savings of $12 billion in public healthcare costs, since unintended pregnancies are disproportionately experienced by low-income women who rely on public health coverage (and who often have suboptimal access to highly effective contraceptive methods, which are significantly more expensive up front than less effective methods).
*In a University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) study, a selection of Planned Parenthood clinics intervened to increase patients’ awareness of the most effective contraceptive methods, without altering their cost.
All UNFPA Funding Cut by Trump Administration
Trump ended funding to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in early April—a move that was expected, but is nonetheless distressing. The United States contribution to UNFPA totalled nearly $75 million in 2016.
Women on Waves Blocked from Docking in Guatemala
Seven staff and crew of the Dutch “abortion ship” organization, Women on Waves, traveled to the international waters off the coast of Guatemala in February to provide safe medication abortion to women up to ten weeks pregnant. The seven were detained at the Port of San José and held in military custody.
Abortion is illegal in Guatemala except to save a woman’s life. According to the Guttmacher Institute, there are 65,000 illegal abortions in Guatemala each year.
Women on Waves was kicked out of Morocco in 2012 under similar circumstances. The ship is now visiting Mexico.
Trump Tries (and Fails) to Make Awful Deal with Planned Parenthood
Donald Trump told Planned Parenthood leaders that he would stop targeting the organization for funding cuts (reimbursements for services rendered) if the organization would discontinue its abortion services.
Dawn Laguens, Executive Vice President of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said, “Offering money to Planned Parenthood to abandon our patients and our values is not a deal that we will ever accept. Providing critical healthcare services for millions of American women is nonnegotiable.”
Not much of a deal there, Donald.
UN Warns of Humanitarian Crises in Four Countries
Reporting to the UN Security Council in March, Stephen O’Brien, UN Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, said that more than 20 million people in four countries—Nigeria Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen—are facing starvation.
“Already at the beginning of the year we are facing the largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the United Nations,” said O’Brien.
He detailed the situations in each of the four countries at risk:
- In Nigeria, according to a UN humanitarian coordinator and reported by The Guardian, “Malnutrition in the northeast is so pronounced that some adults are too weak to walk and some communitieshave lost all their toddlers.”
- In Somalia, 2.9 million people are at risk of famine.
- In South Sudan, “More than one million children are estimated to be acutely malnourished across the country, including 270,000 children who face the imminent risk of death should they not be reached in time with assistance.”
- In Yemen, more than 7 million people are hungry.
O’Brien is calling on UN member states to contribute $4.4 billion by July “to avert a catastrophe.”
New Felony Charges for Sting Videographers
David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt are facing 15 felony charges in California: one for each of the 14 Planned Parenthood staff members they secretly filmed in California, plus one charge for criminal conspiracy to invade privacy. Similar charges in Texas against the pair were dropped in July after a successful appeal by Daleiden.