Bills also include $512 million for Title X and $130 million for Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, end several harmful federal abortion coverage bans, and permanently repeal the global gag rule
WASHINGTON — Today, the Senate Appropriations Committee, led by Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT), released critical fiscal year 2023 spending bills that make momentous gains for sexual and reproductive health. Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, responded with the following quote:
“It has been just over a month since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, and the consequences have been devastating. We applaud Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) and other sexual and reproductive health care champions on the committee who understand this and have proposed a $350 million federal abortion fund to help people who face financial barriers to getting the abortion care they need. Attacks on abortion access have created a public health catastrophe – this is the kind of leadership and creative thinking we need right now.
In this post-Roe reality, lawmakers at all levels play a critical role in supporting sexual and reproductive health care and rights and responding to the abortion access crisis. And the bills released today include significant investments in programs that will increase access to sexual and reproductive health care and eliminate several abortion coverage bans that most harm people who already faced the greatest barriers to care due to systemic racism and discrimination: people with low incomes, Black, Latino, and Indigenous people, the LGBTQ+ community, and those living in rural communities. We applaud sexual and reproductive health champions in the Senate for drafting these bills to provide the American people with the health care investments they deserve.”
In response to the devastating Supreme Court decision that ended the federal right to abortion, the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS) bill, led by subcommittee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA), includes:
- Historic $350 million federal abortion fund that would support patients and providers in need of care, which can be used to reduce barriers to those seeking care, including by covering the costs of travel, lodging, and childcare, and supporting providers and health care facilities.
- $512 million in Title X funding and $130 million for the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, and it would eliminate funding for harmful, ineffective abstinence-only sex-ed programs.
- $496 million in funding for programs that address maternal health outcomes.
- $60.25 million for the Office for Civil Rights, which enforces federal civil rights laws that prohibit discriminatory restrictions, including those that limit access to reproductive health care.
- $10 million for a Reproductive Health Ombudsman at the Department of Health and Human Services.
The LHHS bill also ends the harmful and discriminatory Weldon and Hyde amendments and includes report language directing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to enforce the Medicaid free choice of provider provision. This important language is intended to guard against the ideologically motivated actions of several states to deprive Medicaid beneficiaries of their legal right to receive family planning services from the health care provider of their choice, including Planned Parenthood health centers.
The Hyde Amendment is a discriminatory policy that has blocked equitable abortion access for generations. It has barred millions of people with Medicaid from accessing safe, legal abortions for more than 40 years. This amendment most harms people who, due to this country's legacy of systemic racism and bias, have relied most on Medicaid, including Black, Latino, and LGBTQ+ people.
The Weldon Amendment has been used to threaten state and local governments that try to protect or expand access to abortion care or coverage with the loss of federal health care dollars. It emboldens health care entities to use personal or religious beliefs to deny access to abortion.
The Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) bill, led by subcommittee Chair Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), proposes ending the DC Medicaid coverage ban — which prohibits Washington, DC, from using its own locally raised tax dollars to pay for abortions for DC Medicaid recipients and the abortion coverage ban in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.
The State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (SFOPs) bill, led by Chair Chris Coons (D-DE), would modestly increase investments in family planning and reproductive health programs across the globe, including the United Nations Population Fund; and it includes language that would permanently end the global gag rule.
When in effect, the global gag rule prevents foreign organizations receiving U.S. global health assistance from providing information, referrals, or services for legal abortion or advocating for access to abortion services in their country — even with their own money. For the last 40 years, the global gag rule has either been reinstated or repealed with each transition of party leadership in the White House, disrupting health care access, jeopardizing long-term funding for health programs, and harming people around the world.
Additionally, the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) spending bill includes a provision prohibiting the Department of Justice from using funds to investigate or prosecute individuals who cross state lines to access an abortion or people who help another person obtain abortion services.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable sexual and reproductive health care for all people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect, and without judgment, striving to create equitable access to health care. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable education and information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives. Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that supports the independently incorporated Planned Parenthood affiliates operating health centers across the U.S.