Fam Planning for County Uninsured Up for Vote
Senate dumps abortion-care coverage ban amendment, but what about Austin?
By Jordan Smith,
1:11PM, Wed. Dec. 9, 2009
Senators on Dec. 8 voted down an amendment to the health care reform bill that would have banned private insurers that receive any federal funds from offering abortion care to women, even though that insurance coverage is paid for privately by consumers. In Austin, a decision on whether to cover abortion for the uninsured will go to a vote tomorrow night.
The federal amendment, offered by Nebraska Dem Sen. Ben Nelson and Utah's GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch, would also prohibit women who receive affordability tax credits from purchasing supplemental private insurance to cover abortion care. The amendment, similar to one proposed in the House, was defeated on a vote of 54-45. "No one should use the issue of abortion to rob millions of the opportunity to get good health care," Senate Majority Leader Henry Reid, D-Nevada, told ABC News. "This is not the right place for this debate."
Indeed, the same could be said about a similar "debate" raging now in Austin, with the Travis County Healthcare District set to decide tomorrow night – Thursday, Dec. 10 – whether to continue funding contracts for reproductive health care, including abortion care, that moved from the city of Austin to the TCHD in 2004 when the District was created.
At issue are $450,000 worth of contracts with local women's health providers that include abortion care coverage through the local Medical Assistance Program, which provides health care for women that fall 100% below the poverty line. The Texas Alliance for Life has taken on the mission of defeating the contracts, saying that property taxes shouldn't pay for abortions for uninsured low-income women. That argument has caught some traction in this down economy, yet still falls short on hard facts – indeed, the portion of tax dollars funding the program would, at best, amount to pennies on the dollar. Moreover, the funds go to support health care for more than 100,000 low-income women – including access to reproductive family-planning care that would help prevent the need for abortion.
The meeting happens at 5:30pm Thursday night in the Commissioners Court inside the Grander Building at 314 W. 11th Street. Speakers can sign up beginning at 5pm.