The League of Women Voters of the United States joined a sign-on letter urging Congress to reject any appropriations bills that contained riders restricting access to essential health care including abortion, contraception, and gender-affirming care.
The Honorable Charles Schumer
Senate Majority Leader
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510
The Honorable Hakeem Jeffries
House Minority Leader
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515
The Honorable Patty Murray
Senate Appropriations Committee
Washington, DC 20510
The Honorable Rosa DeLauro
House Appropriations Committee
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senate Majority Leader Schumer, House Minority Leader Jeffries, Chair Murray, and Ranking Member DeLauro,
We, the 135 undersigned organizations committed to civil and human rights, write to urge you to reject any appropriations bills that contain riders that would restrict access to essential health care, including abortion, contraception, and gender-affirming care, whether delivered in-person or via telehealth. We are united in our belief that all people should be able to access the care they need, and to make informed decisions about their own bodies and lives. As such, we were appalled to see language limiting access to these services, both directly and by targeting organizations that provide such care, in the fiscal year (FY) 2024 appropriations bills, including many new draconian and discriminatory proposals from House appropriators.
Our country is facing a reproductive health care crisis, one that has been accelerated by the Supreme Court’s extreme decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overturning Roe v. Wade and eliminating the constitutional right to abortion. In the first 100 days post-Dobbs, at least 66 clinics in 15 states stopped offering abortion services, and over the past year the average travel time to an abortion facility in the U.S. has more than tripled. As of September 2023, 21 states have bans on abortion in place, leaving 1 in 3 women, plus more transgender and nonbinary people, without abortion access and disproportionately impacting people of color, people with disabilities, young people, people living in rural areas, and people working to make ends meet. State policymakers have also taken Dobbs as an invitation to attempt to limit access to contraception, especially for adolescents and those enrolled in Medicaid.
Abortion bans and restrictions impact people across all areas of their lives, including their ability to work, care for the children they already have, and determine their own life’s course. People who are turned away from abortion services and go on to give birth are much more likely than are their peers who are able to access abortion care to experience a number of harmful impacts, including financial harm (such as an increase in household poverty, a reduction in credit score, an increase in debt, and a rise in the likelihood of bankruptcies and evictions), exacerbation of serious medical conditions (such as high blood pressure), and a greater likelihood of remaining in a relationship where interpersonal violence is present. Moreover, the states with the greatest number of abortion restrictions have the poorest postpartum health outcomes.
We have also seen a surge in state and federal attacks against transgender people, including targeted efforts to eliminate their access to essential health care. A large body of scientific evidence compiled over the last five decades illustrates that gender-affirming care is safe, effective care that improves the physical and mental health of transgender people. In fact, every major medical and mental health association in the country – representing more than 1.3 million doctors – supports individualized, age-appropriate gender-affirming care that promotes the health and well-being of transgender people.
In the House, seven out of the twelve fiscal year 2024 appropriations bills contain dangerous, discriminatory riders banning access to a wide range of gender-affirming care services for transgender youth and adults. If adopted, these policies would have devastating and far-reaching impacts: they would deprive transgender people of best practice, medically necessary care, impede health care institutions and providers from offering quality services, and limit access to health care for everyone. Similarly, eight of the bills include harmful anti-abortion and anti-contraception measures. These riders represent extreme political intrusion into the practice of medicine guided by evidence-based clinical standards, as well as into decision-making by patients, their families, and clinicians, and will disproportionately harm people of color, people with disabilities, young people, people living in rural areas, and people working to make ends meet.
Legislative and policy attacks on access to both reproductive health care and gender-affirming care are attacks on the same basic right to self-determination and bodily autonomy. Many of the medical providers who offer abortion and other reproductive health services also offer gender-affirming care, and vice versa, because this care is part of the full spectrum of essential sexual and reproductive health care our communities need. Policies attempting to prevent people from receiving either form of care ultimately serve to obstruct both and deprive many of our most vulnerable communities of time-sensitive, life-saving care.
We, the undersigned 135 organizations, urge you in the strongest possible terms to make clear that any appropriations bill or package that includes language attempting to block access to reproductive or gender-affirming care is completely unacceptable.
We thank you for your attention to this letter. Our organizations look forward to continuing to work with you to advance health equity and ensure access to essential health services for communities across the country.
See Attached Letter for Signatories