(Photo: REUTERS/ Joshua Roberts)
President Obama’s Secretary of Health and Human Services said Wednesday that Republicans not only want to curb abortion rights, but also to set women’s health back 50 years.
The highly inflammatory remarks by Kathleen Sebelius were delivered at a Chicago lunch hosted by NARAL Pro-Choice America.
“We are in a war,” said Sebelius at the lunch, according to The Associated Press. She accused the GOP of threatening to take away Medicare benefits and slash Medicaid and government-funded services offered by abortion provider Planned Parenthood.
“They don’t just want to go after the last 18 months,” Sebelius told the gathering of about 300 abortion rights activists. “They want to reverse a half-century of progress women have made in comprehensive health care in America.”
The HHS secretary contended that women are discriminated against by the nation’s insurance companies. For example, she said, insurance plans consider “Viagra an essential medication and birth control a lifestyle choice.”
The best hope of thwarting Republicans and thereby ensuring continued gains in women’s health is President Obama’s health care overhaul, which the GOP aims to repeal, Sebelius said.
Meanwhile, NARAL Pro-Choice America is most concerned about the recent success Republicans have had in imposing new limits on abortion. It reports that states have enacted 62 laws this year that the abortion-rights group labels “anti-choice,” the most in the past 15 years.
At the same time, said NARAL Pro-Choice America spokesman Ted Miller, the House GOP has proposed a budget that would eliminate family planning services, such as abortion, that currently are financed by federal tax dollars.
Sebelius said that the Obama healthcare law will make birth control more widely available, which, she argued, is the single biggest step the government can take to reduce the number of abortions performed each year.
“Forty percent of unplanned pregnancies end in those women seeking abortions,” the HHS secretary said. “Wouldn’t you think that people who want to reduce the number of abortions would champion the cause of widely-available, widely-affordable contraceptive services?”
Pro-life groups, like the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, disagree with Sebelius. They note that the Obama healthcare law calls for coverage of all FDA-approved contraceptives, including not only those that prevent pregnancies, but also abortifacients like the FDA-approved “emergency contraceptive” Ella, which can terminate a pregnancy in its early weeks.