Perhaps one of the most harmful moments of the impending federal government shutdown earlier this year was that the reproductive rights of women in Washington, D.C. were sacrificed in order to make a deal with House Republicans. The Capitol’s long history of allowing the poorest and sickest of women in the area, those who receive medical assistance from Medicaid, to use their coverage in order to end an unwanted pregnancy was reversed, leaving the right to decide whether or not to have a child a right that only those who weren’t struggling financially could afford.
Luckily, that prohibition is over for now. The Senate Appropriations committee has passed a “clean” budget bill that does not include a ban on “taxpayer funded abortions in Washington, D.C.,” allowing the city to once more decide for itself whether or not women on Medicaid should be allowed to obtain the procedure.
Unfortunately, it’s not all good news in the area. The Virginia Board of Health has now approved a set of new regulations for any state facility that provides abortions, regulating them with the same rules as hospitals — a standard that is likely to close most, if not all of the clinics in the state. The TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) law needs only to be approved by anti-abortion rights Governor Bob McDonnell in order to go into effect at the first of the year. For women in D.C., that could greatly reduce their access to available providers in the area.
Providers are being asked to redo construction on their building, widening halls and enlarging rooms, with the same set of rules that are currently being tied up in court in Kansas. When Kansas implemented their own TRAP law, two of the three providers in the state were immediately shut down for non-compliance until a temporary hold on the rules were put in place by the courts.
So it’s a half-hearted victory for women in the Capitol. Poor women may be able to afford abortions now, but finding a provider may instead be the difficult part.
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