Vitter symbolically restricts native women’s abortion access

This morning the Senate passed the Vitter Amendment — yup, that David Vitter — banning the use of federal Indian Health Service (IHS) funds for abortions. Except that the Hyde Amendment — another piece of “pro-family” legislation named for a noted philanderer — already restricts the rights of low-income women by denying Medicaid and IHS coverage for abortion.
So what’s Vitter doing? He claims his amendment closes a loophole in the Hyde Amendment that may be exploited by a pro-choice president. But really, this is bullshit. All his amendment does reiterate our existing federal policy, and muck things up for a future Democratic congress or president that may repeal the Hyde Amendment. Explains Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards:

“Sen. Vitter’s amendment is simply a political tactic that will do nothing to improve health care for Native Americans, nor reduce the number of unintended pregnancies,� said PPFA President Cecile Richards. “If Sen. Vitter is serious about preventing unintended pregnancies, he would support prevention legislation that invests in family planning programs. Unfortunately, Sen. Vitter’s amendment puts politics over the health and welfare of Native Americans.�

Exactly. Native women face disproportionately high rates of rape and sexual assault, and a very high teen birth rate. Seems like an awesome idea to cut this population off from federal reproductive health funding, huh?! Planned Parenthood continues,

In addition, Sen. Vitter’s amendment opens the door to potential unintended consequences. Restrictions on federal funding for abortion-related services should be consistent across federal programs and subject to the same language. As an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services, IHS should be treated in the same manner as other HHS programs, such as Medicaid, which are all subject to the restrictions of the Hyde Amendment. Senator Vitter’s amendment poses potential confusion and duplication of effort if abortion restriction language is amended or changed.
In short, Senator Vitter’s amendment is a political ploy.

Yup. This is a way for Vitter and other anti-choice members of Congress — including amendment cosponsor John McCain — to pander to their base. Which is why it’s so appalling that Vitter has offered this as an amendment to the “Indian Health Care Improvement Act.” As if he gives a damn about native women’s health.

Join the Conversation

  • bubblewrapgenie

    Vitter voted against it. And all the “Nays” are from Republicans. There must have been some really wonky language in this bill. Check out the voting roll call:

  • atheistwoman

    This is repulsive, but funnily enough makes no sense. Even thirty years ago people like Vitter were doing everything (including forced sterilization) they could to make sure that native women were NOT reproducing. But I guess he is probably just using them as props for his sick anti-woman politics.

  • Redstar

    Good lord I hate this man. This is the same one who is blocking crucial affordable housing from coming to the Gulf Coast. He DISGUSTS me.

  • GopherII

    This is revoltingly racist. I thought the Native Americans were excempt from lawmakers enforcing certain laws within their reservation territories.

  • waxghost

    GopherII, I’m pretty sure the IHS is not subject to sovereignty rules since it’s a federal (rather than tribal) organization. Also, I believe there are a lot of Native people who don’t live on reservations but still get health care through the IHS.

  • pull_rank

    Reservations are only exempt from state law (and that’s only true in some circumstances in certain states). Because of Congress’s plenary power and the ‘trust doctrine,’ the federal government can basically do what ever they want. Waxghost is right as well — IHS provides services on and off reservations.

  • GopherII

    ” I believe there are a lot of Native people who don’t live on reservations but still get health care through the IHS. ”
    Right. I didn’t mean to stereotype, but I thought one of these anti-choice nuts was possibly trespassing their reach concerning jurisdiction. I figured they sort this out, but was bewildered how it could even be carried out.

  • Thealogian

    Beyond his anti-woman, racist, hate the poor policies, he’s also a hypocrite! He was caught in a sex scandal involving prostitutes, women so not as widely publicized as the same-sex scandals–yet, his sexual preferences included fecalphilia and dressing up like a big baby. Much more creatively defiant that a closeted gay-man in a restroom looking for some non-commercial action. I wonder how many of the prostitutes/sex workers have had to access abortion/contraceptive services that he’s “been with”? I wonder how many abortions he’s personally paid for.

  • werechick

    This, ladies and gentlemen, is why David Vitter needed to pay women to fuck him.

  • Peripatetic