Make Them Hear You! Rolling Back Abortion Access

Make Them Hear You! is a weekly feature on KGNU, produced by Chris Mohr, letting listeners know how they can have their voices heard on issues up before Congress. You can hear it Wednesday mornings at 8.20am during the Morning Magazine.

We’re in the summer recess, where not much is happening in Washington beyond a string of malicious tweets from Donald Trump and an ever-escalating Russian investigation led by Robert Mueller, who is definitely not on vacation as he empanels a grand jury. And here in Colorado, Sen Cory Gardner had his first town hall meeting of the year in the southwest corner of the state, on a workday, with 24 hours’ notice, where he fielded angry questions from constituents about why he voted in favor of two repeal without replace healthcare bills. He promised more town hall meetings but said he didn’t have his schedule with him. He and other Senators and Representatives are claiming they want to work on a bipartisan Obamacare replacement bill, and millions of activists continue to hold their feet to the fire on this issue with phone calls, visits, postcards and even office occupations.

In the meantime, a major women’s healthcare issue is coming up to the chopping block. Senate Republicans led by Rand Paul are floating S 231 Life at Conception Act, which would modify the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection clause by defining protected life as beginning at conception. Rand Paul says his bill will extend protections to unborn humans. This bill has only a small chance of passing, but a much more imminent threat to abortion rights, the House. HR7 and the Senate version S 184 would permanently pull all federal funding from legal abortions. The Hyde Amendment, enacted in 1980, already bans most federal funding except in cases of rape, incest or life of the mother, but the Hyde amendment has to be renewed every year. And there’s a loophole in the Hyde amendment this new law would close: a state could no longer use its own Medicaid funds to cover abortions.

Currently, 17 states use state-only funds to pay for abortions for women on Medicaid, and there have been 300,000 since 1980. The new House and Senate bills would deny states the right to choose to cover abortions with Medicaid funds. These bills will also ban federal subsidies for any healthcare plan offering abortion coverage, abortions at federal facilities, and give no Obamacare credits or subsidies for any plan that includes abortion.

In the meantime Democrats are floating House Bill 771, which permanently repeals the Hyde Amendment and allows federal funding for abortions. This one is dead on arrival in the Republican chamber but still has enormous public support.

If you have an opinion about House Bill 7’s and Senate Bill 184’s further tightening of abortion restrictions or thoughts about other abortion bills, now is the time to share those concerns with Congress and contact abortion groups. This is also a good time to share your concerns about healthcare and your opinions on a bipartisan effort to shore up Obamacare.

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