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Council Passes Women’s Reproductive Health Rights Resolution

City of Seattle
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 9/8/2014

Council Passes Women’s Reproductive Health Rights Resolution

SEATTLE – The Seattle City Council today unanimously approved Resolution 31541, calling on the United States Congress and President Obama to repeal all federal bans on public coverage of abortion and supporting efforts to improve access to public and private insurance coverage for comprehensive reproductive health care.

“Every woman who enrolls in public government insurance should have the right to make their personal reproductive choices and receive coverage based on those choices, regardless of income or financial status,” said Councilmember Bruce Harrell, chair of the Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee.

The Hyde Amendment, a rider attached to the federal spending budget each year and first passed by Congress in 1976, bans Medicaid coverage of abortion. Federal law also prohibits insurance coverage of abortion for women and their dependents who receive federally sponsored health care.

Rachel Berkson, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, said, “Given that there are over 4,000 women in Seattle are insured through the federal government and subject to these restrictions on abortion coverage, we commend Bruce Harrell and the Seattle City Council for taking a strong stand against the Hyde Amendment. For far too long, coverage bans like the Hyde Amendment have disproportionately limited access to abortion care for low-income women and women of color. Seattle is a pro-choice city and Washington is a state with a pro-choice majority—it’s time we embraced an agenda that reflects this, and identifies reproductive rights not just as an issue of gender equality, but one of economic and racial justice.”

Lisa Stone, Executive Director of Legal Voice, said, “Every woman should be able to make decisions based on what is best for herself and her family instead of based on what she can afford. The Hyde Amendment and other federal bans of abortion coverage affect Seattle women in a very real way. It’s time to tell Congress that when access to abortion is determined by the type of insurance a woman has, reproductive choice is meaningless.”

Andrea Miller, President of National Institute for Reproductive Health, said, “By withholding abortion coverage from women utilizing federal insurance plans, our nation has effectively created a class-based system for access to abortion care. But today Seattle joined the ranks of cities across the country—including Cambridge, New York City, Oakland and Philadelphia – that are leading the national movement to strike down the unjust bans that deny too many women access to abortion care. The National Institute for Reproductive Health is proud to support these efforts, and congratulates the women and men of Seattle.”

Councilmember Jean Godden, who chairs the committee overseeing the City’s efforts to eliminate gender inequity in the workplace, agreed. “Each of us should have the right to make reproductive health choices, based on what’s best for oneself and for one’s family.”

Seattle joins a grass-roots movement to repeal the Hyde amendment and becomes the first jurisdiction in the Northwest—and the sixth nationally—to declare its support for overturning the Hyde Amendment.

According to the most recent U.S. Census, over 311,650 women live in Seattle. 67,824 women in Seattle are enrolled in public insurance and over 4,000 women of reproductive age are insured through the federal government and are therefore subject to federal restrictions on abortion coverage.

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