Legislative priorities include expanding access to comprehensive reproductive health care and repealing limits on access to abortion
The Virginia Pro-Choice Coalition today released its 2014 “Healthy Families” agenda for the upcoming legislative session. The group’s priorities include increasing access to affordable health services by expanding Medicaid and restoring maternity and family planning programs targeted at low-income Virginians, as well as repealing recent attacks on women’s health designed to make it more difficult for women to access safe and legal abortion. Audio of the call is available at: https://www.dropbox.com/s/czypeklwc7f1zlg/010214%20Press%20Call.mp3
Tarina Keene, co-chair of the Coalition, noted, “We are dedicated to ensuring that families across the Commonwealth have access to the quality, affordable health care services they need to pursue their full range of reproductive options – including preventing unintended pregnancy, bearing healthy children, and choosing safe, legal abortion.”
The Coalition’s 2014 “Healthy Families” agenda includes:
- Medicaid Expansion: Expanding Medicaid in Virginia will not only create jobs and save the Commonwealth money, but will also provide much needed health care access to over 150,000 Virginia women of reproductive age. At least one in ten women nationally rely on Medicaid to access life-saving cancer screenings and mammograms. If Virginia refuses to expand Medicaid, at least 115,000 Virginia women of reproductive age will fall in the so-called “Medicaid Gap”, wherein they earn too much to quality for Virginia’s very low Medicaid threshold, but not enough to quality for tax credits to purchase insurance on the exchange.
- Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative Funds: Governor McDonnell’s state budget for 2012-2014 eliminated funding for the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative (TPPI). Prior to funding cuts, TPPI operated in seven health districts designated as having the highest teenage pregnancy rates in the state. The budget cut means our kids suffer when they don’t have the information and services they need to make responsible and healthy life decisions. This budget amendment would restore Virginia youth’s chances to receive comprehensive education and health services that will allow them to make safe, healthy choices.
- FAMIS MOMS and Plan First Funds: Due to budget cuts, FAMIS MOMS, which provides health care coverage to low-income, pregnant women, will cease enrollment on January 1st. Plan First, which provides family planning services to low-income men and women, will being operating with reduced eligibility. Healthy pregnancies mean healthy babies. Access to health care during pregnancy significantly decreases the risks for complications and unhealthy outcomes, including low-birth weight babies. Plan First has proven effective at reducing the number of unintended pregnancies across the Commonwealth. The program saved the state $2.5M annually in 2008 and 2009.
- Repeal Mandatory Ultrasound: The 2012 mandatory ultrasound statute is the only state law to mandate medical procedures and is intended to shame and coerce women regarding their private health care decisions. Politicians should not interfere in personal decisions that are between a woman, her family, her faith, and her doctor.
- Repeal Abortion Insurance Coverage Ban: A 2013 Governor’s amendment prohibits insurance companies from offering, and individuals from purchasing, insurance coverage that includes coverage for abortion. A woman deserves to be able to get the safe, legal medical care she needs—no matter where her insurance comes from.
Katherine Greenier, Coalition co-chair, said, “Decisions about when and whether to have a child should be between a woman, her doctor, her family, and her faith. Politicians have no role in these private decisions. Our 2014 Healthy Families agenda will do just that: get politicians out of the doctor's office and back to promoting policies that promote healthy children and families.”
To download audio of the call, please visit: https://www.dropbox.com/s/czypeklwc7f1zlg/010214%20Press%20Call.mp3