U.S. representatives – including local Congressman Scott Peters (D-CA) – united in Washington, D.C., Tuesday in the fight for women’s reproductive rights, calling out President Donald Trump’s stance on the hot-button topic.
“Family-planning decisions are the most personal decisions that we can face and they should never be made by the government,” Peters, representing the 52nd District of California, said in a news conference.
Peters gathered alongside Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-CO), Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA), Congresswoman Katherine Clark (D-MA) and Congressman Ami Bera (D-CA) to discuss the Trump Administration’s fast-moving plans for women’s reproductive health care rights, including the executive order signed by President Donald Trump to reinstate the Global Gag Rule, which prohibits federal funding of any overseas organization that counsels women about abortion.
The representatives also discussed H.R. 7, the bill that prohibits taxpayer funding for abortion. The passing of the legislation could make the Hyde Amendment permanent, which serves to deny taxpayer-funded health care coverage of abortions, except to save the life of the woman or if the pregnancy arises from incest or rape.
Without that federal funding, other family planning services stand to be impacted, including services offered by clinics like Planned Parenthood.
“The damage of the bill under consideration in the House today, combined with the threat of revoked Medicaid funding from Planned Parenthood, will be that hard-working families will be deprived of affordable health care that lets them start a family on their own – on their own schedule, in their own way,” Peters added.
DeGette, speaking of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus, said this about the Hyde Amendment: “We think it discriminates against poor women – the women who most need a full range of health care services.”
“This bill denies access to low-income women to exercise their Constitutional rights. It is discriminatory,” said Lee, congresswoman of the 13th District of California. “And they won’t be satisfied until they turn back the clock to when women had no reproductive options at all.”
“Instead of trusting women to make their own health care decisions, it invites politicians into their private decisions,” she added.
San Francisco Congresswoman Jackie Speier criticized Trump’s stance on women’s reproductive health issues and said this: “He is destroying lives around the country. What is happening here is a reverse Genesis; what is happening here is an effort to destroy this planet and he’s doing it systematically, each and every day.”
Ultimately, the House passed H.R.7 Wednesday which could make the Hyde Amendment permanent. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) released this statement upon the bill’s passage:
“We are a pro-life Congress. Today we renewed our commitment to the Hyde Amendment with the passage of the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. I want to thank Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) for his tireless commitment to this cause. This legislation protects the conscience of American taxpayers by ensuring that not a single dollar of their hard-earned money goes to fund abortions. As hundreds of thousands of Americans flock to Washington for the March for Life, we must never forget that defending all of our people—especially the defenseless—must be our top priority if we want to be a good and moral nation.”
The bill still has to pass the Senate, where it faces opposition from Democrats.
NBC 7 spoke to locals Wednesday on both sides of the Hyde Amendment.
Chris Clark, Pastor at East Clairemont Baptist Church, said he applauds the Trump Administration for acting quickly on this issue.
He said he does not think the U.S. should subsidize abortions with taxpayer money, especially if abortions go against a taxpayer’s faith and core beliefs.
Clark said he would rather see taxpayer money used for saving lives, "through federally-funded programs that would provide for economic aid and relief for some of these more impoverished countries."
Tracy Skaddan, General Counsel with Planned Parenthood for the Pacific Southwest, said Trump’s decision to reinstate the Global Gag Rule will have dire consequences.
“It’s a very sad Executive Order because the federal dollars to international organizations that provide more than family planning – that provide HIV prevention and treatment, that provide Zika response efforts, that provide maternal and child health care – are all going to be affected by this.”
She said the impact will be similar to what the world saw under the Reagan and Bush administrations.
“What we know will happen is that health care organizations across the world will have to close or their services will be limited. And, as a result of that, we know that contraception will be extremely limited and when that happens, unintended pregnancy rates increase and then we’re going to see unsafe abortion practices,” Skaddan said. “With unsafe abortions, women and girls will die.”
With Wednesday’s developments, Skaddan said the funding threats to Planned Parenthood are now very real. She said that in San Diego, Imperial and Riverside counties, Planned Parenthood helps more than 270,000 patients each year with family planning services.
“Planned Parenthood does not promote an option [to choose] to a woman. Planned Parenthood provides high quality care and we provide accurate medical information to a woman, and her family, and her faith and her physician, to make a choice as to what is needed for herself and her family,” Skaddan explained. “Those services are very, very important to our community.”
Skaddan said the organization will continue to do everything in its power to make sure locals have access to those services.
And politicians in Washington, D.C., will have to take notice that many women don’t agree with the Trump Administration’s decision on H.R.7, especially after Saturday's Women's March on Washington and other demonstrations across the globe, including San Diego.
“Every single step that they took and every single block that they walked this last weekend is going to send a message to Washington that this is absolutely unacceptable,” Skaddan said. “We’re not talking about politics here – we’re talking about basic health care.”
“The U.S. has always been a leader in human rights internationally and I think the Executive Order that was signed this week really is against our core values as a country,” she added.