(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – District of Columbia Mayor Vincent C. Gray held a press briefing today at one of the city’s local Planned Parenthood facilities, located at 1108 16th Street, NW.
Fresh on the heels of his arrest yesterday in protest of the District’s treatment and precarious position in the current national budget debate, Mayor Gray focused on the reproductive rights that will be eliminated by Congress and the devastating impact on the city’s poor and disadvantaged women.
In addition to Mayor Gray and District officials, also on hand to express their displeasure were Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) as well as representatives from Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America and the National Council of Negro Women, among others.
¬¬Stated Mayor Gray, “Yesterday, I had the honor of being arrested for demonstrating my outrage at how my hometown, the District of Columbia, is being treated by Congress. I am outraged because we are being told -- no, being forced -- to spend our own money the way someone else sees fit. That someone else is Congress.
“We are being told what to spend and what not to spend, whether the programs are beneficial to the District or not. This is a travesty. We are here in front of Planned Parenthood today because one of the riders in a bill that dictates what we spend will restrict and eliminate reproductive rights for our city’s poor and disadvantaged women.”
The rider contained in the 2011 budget compromise prohibits the District of Columbia from using it own revenue to fund reproductive services for low-income women.
Currently, the District funds both “therapeutic” and “elective” abortions for low-income women receiving Medicaid services.
Therapeutic abortions are provided at the request of the beneficiary because the pregnancy is a result of rape, incest, or it endangers the life of the mother. This type of abortion is paid for with federal and local District funds. The budget compromise struck last week does not affect these services.
However, elective abortions, which are provided at the request of the woman, cannot be paid for with federal Medicaid dollars. In 2009, the District received approval to fund this type of abortion through a Federal Omnibus spending bill, which lifted a 13 year ban on the District’s use of local funds for elective abortions.
In August 2010, the D.C. Council used this new authority to authorize elective abortions as a covered service for Medicaid recipients to be paid for only with the District’s local funds.
Since that date, an estimated total of 117 elective abortions and 73 therapeutic abortions were provided, as reported by the District’s Managed Care Organization for Medicaid and Alliance beneficiaries.
Presently, the cost to the District for elective abortion services provided after August 1, 2010 is an estimated $62,300. The estimated cost of therapeutic abortions is $125,200.