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Catholics for Choice Statement on the Preventing Unintended Pregnancies, Reducing the Need for Abortion and Supporting Parents Act

July 23, 2009

Washington DC – Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, issued the following statement in support of the Preventing Unintended Pregnancies, Reducing the Need for Abortion and Supporting Parents Act.

“Catholics for Choice is delighted to give our backing to the Preventing Unintended Pregnancies, Reducing the Need for Abortion and Supporting Parents Act, sponsored by Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Tim Ryan (D-OH). We applaud them for advancing this well-balanced bill that will help to reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies and support women and men who want to have children.

“Catholics for Choice acknowledges the longstanding and unwavering work that these Catholic representatives have done to affirm the moral capacity of women and men to make decisions about their reproductive healthcare. We and Catholics across the country are heartened by their efforts and know that their Catholic social justice beliefs helped to guide their work on this legislation.

“The introduction of this bill comes at a critically important time. Each year, nearly half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended, and nearly half of unintended pregnancies end in abortion. In 2006, 36,200,000 women, more than half of all women of reproductive age, were in need of contraceptive services and supplies to help prevent unintended pregnancy, and nearly half of those needed public support for such care.

“Catholics support policies that enable women to make decisions about whether to become pregnant, or whether to continue a pregnancy. Catholic support for family planning and abortion is grounded in the core principles of Catholicism, which respect the moral agency of all people as well as their moral and legal right of individuals to follow their consciences on all matters, including those including related to sexuality and reproductive health.

“Rather than seeking to present reproductive health services as a distraction from the real issues of the day, the legislation includes a range of key provisions that point to the integral role these services play in the delivery of comprehensive healthcare.

“Catholics for Choice applauds Representatives DeLauro and Ryan for elevating the importance of family planning by authorizing increased funding for the federal Title X program. We are very pleased that the legislation would restore family planning to mandatory status for Medicaid benchmark plans, thus preventing states from avoiding federal requirements for these services. The bill also amends Medicaid law to give states the option of extending coverage for family planning services and supplies to women who would be entitled to Medicaid-funded prenatal, labor, delivery and postpartum care.

“Additionally, we applaud the provisions in the legislation that would fund pregnancy prevention efforts, with preference to programs that provide age-appropriate, evidenced-based information, including information on contraceptives and sexually transmitted infections.

“We are also pleased that the bill provides resources for new parents, which will help them navigate the challenges of raising children; in particular, provisions that would expand coverage of postpartum care from 60 days to one year under the State Children’s Health Insurance Program and expand the participation of new parents in the Women, Infants, and Children program. The bill also includes language that makes key changes in the private healthcare market that would remove pregnancy as a pre-existing condition and require coverage of maternity care.

“Finally, we are heartened that the bill would authorize several new programs that provide other key resources to expectant and new parents, including home visits that would provide information on maternal and child healthcare and contraception; a new domestic violence screening and treatment program for pregnant women and new mothers; and increased funding for the Child Care and Development Fund. We look forward to working with Reps. Ryan and DeLauro as the legislation moves forward in the 111th Congress.”