Trump Cuts Teen Pregnancy Prevention Funding
The Trump administration slashed teen pregnancy prevention grants by more than $200 million in July. The second cohort of five-year federal grants under the Teenage Pregnancy Prevention (TPP) Program, awarded in 2015, goes to 81 organizations. Their grants were supposed to run through 2019, but recipients were informed by the Department of Health and Human Services that the funding would end prematurely, on June 30, 2018.
The TPP was initiated by President Obama in 2010 to find evidence-based solutions to reducing teen pregnancy, with the aim of replicating those programs that worked best in other areas around the country. The first cohort of grant recipients, from 2010-2014, used either curricula that had been scientifically proven to reduce teen pregnancy rates or tested innovative new programs. This second cohort of grantees is building on that work.
Without TPP funding, 580,000 students will lose their existing medically accurate sex education.
According to the CDC:
- In 2010, teen pregnancy and childbirth accounted for at least $9.4 billion in costs to U.S. taxpayers for increased healthcare and foster care, increased incarceration rates among children of teen parents, and lost tax revenue because of lower educational attainment and income among teen mothers.
- Pregnancy and birth are significant contributors to high school dropout rates among girls. Only about 50 percent of teen mothers receive a high school diploma by 22 years of age, whereas approximately 90 percent of women who do not give birth during adolescence graduate from high school.
- The children of teenage mothers are more likely to have lower school achievement and to drop out of high school, have more health problems, be incarcerated at some time during adolescence, give birth as teenagers, and face unemployment as young adults.
Oregon Expands Abortion Access
Gov. Kate Brown (D) signed the Reproductive Health Equity Act into law in August. It requires insurance companies to cover birth control and abortion without copay and provides funding for the reproductive health of non-citizens who do not receive Medicaid coverage.
Chile Legalizes Abortion in Some Cases
Chile decriminalized abortion in August in cases of rape, when the pregnant woman’s life is in danger, and when the fetus is incompatible with life. President Michelle Bachelet has been urging the lifting of the total abortion ban since 2015, but faced serious opposition from the Catholic Church and evangelicals.
The Chilean Constitutional Tribunal ruled in favor of reversing the ban, 6-4.
Until Augusto Pinochet’s military dictatorship introduced the ban in 1989, abortion had been legal for medical reasons under the 1931 health code. Legislators have been attempting to reverse the ban since 1991.
An estimated 70,000 illegal abortions take place each year in Chile. Until the law changed, getting caught carried a penalty of five years’ imprisonment.
Court Rules Against Anti-Choice Non-Profit
A three-judge panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia ruled in August that secular employers may not opt out of birth control insurance coverage for employees. The lawsuit was filed by Real Alternatives, a Pennsylvania nonprofit whose mission is to “empower women to protect their reproductive health, avoid crisis pregnancies, choose childbirth rather than abortion, receive adoption education, and improve parenting skills.”
Real Alternatives employs three people, who all receive company insurance; their wives and a combined seven children are also insured by the company.
25 Million Unsafe Abortions Worldwide Each Year
Safe Abortion Day, observed each year on September 28, highlights the plight of women who need abortions and can’t obtain them safely, often due to restrictive laws at the country level. The Guttmacher Institute and WHO estimate that of the 55 million abortions each year, 25 million are unsafe — meaning that they are performed by unskilled providers and/or performed using outdated or unsafe methods.
The study’s authors found that “In countries where abortion is completely banned or permitted only to save the woman’s life or preserve her physical health, only one in four abortions were safe; whereas, in countries where abortion is legal on broader grounds, nearly nine in ten abortions were done safely. Restricting access to abortions does not reduce the number of abortions.”
House Votes to Allow D.C. Employers to Discriminate Against Employees for Birth Control Practices
The U.S. House of Representatives voted in September, for the third year in a row, to prohibit the District of Columbia from using federal funds to enforce the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act, passed by the D.C. Council in 2014.
The law bans employers from discriminating against workers based on their use of birth control or whether they’ve had abortions.
Rep. Gary Palmer (R-AL) filed an amendment to the House appropriations bill for fiscal year 2018, and the House passed it, 214-194. It still has to clear the Senate, which is a long shot, and then get Trump’s signature, in order to become law.
IL Gov. Rauner Expands Abortion Coverage, Removes “Trigger” Law
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) signed a bill into law in September that extends abortion coverage to Medicaid recipients and state employees.
The legislation also overturned a “trigger” law that would have banned abortion in Illinois if Roe v Wade were overturned.
HHS Reverses ACA Birth Control Benefit
In October, the Trump administration released a long-rumored rule gutting the birth control coverage requirement in the Affordable Care Act. While not directly a result of the Real Alternatives case on the preceding page, the action will effectively overturn that decision and allow any employer to opt out of birth control coverage for pretty much any reason whatsoever.
The birth control benefit required employers to cover all forms of birth control, without copay, in their employees’ health insurance plans. Exceptions existed for houses of worship and closely held private companies (after craft chain Hobby Lobby won a Supreme Court case in 2014), but critics insisted that the exceptions didn’t go far enough — they wanted all employers to be able to refuse coverage based on religious or “moral” objections.
The rule reversal was instituted by the Department of Health and Human Services and applies even to publicly traded companies, effective immediately. The Center for Reproductive Rights, National Women’s Law Center, and ACLU are planning to challenge the rule change in court.
20-Week Abortion Ban Passes House
The U.S. House of Representatives voted in early October to impose a 20-week abortion ban. The vote occurred on the very same day that one of the bill’s cosponsors — Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA) — was publicly outed in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette for encouraging the woman he was having an extramarital affair with to get an abortion during a pregnancy scare in January. Rep. Murphy has announced that he won’t seek reelection in 2018.
Rep. Murphy is a member of the House Pro-Life Caucus. He has long cosponsored the so-called “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” which will go to the Senate for consideration now that it has cleared the House. Trump has said that he’ll sign the bill if it reaches him, which is unlikely, since the Senate would need 60 votes to pass it.
Trump’s Awful “Wish List”
A Trump administration “wish list,” submitted to the Office of Management and Budget, was obtained by Crooked Media in October, and it is horrible. It calls for ending UNFPA, Title X, and teen pregnancy prevention funding, and requires a new focus on fertility awareness methods of family planning (the same methods that have a 24-percent failure rate per the chart on page 5). It cuts Healthy Start and childhood obesity programs for the same kids members of the religious right supposedly care so much about.
The atrocious document can be viewed and downloaded on the Crooked Media website: tinyurl.com/CrookedWishList.