TREASURY AND GENERAL GOVERNMENT APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2000 -- (Extensions
of Remarks - July 16, 1999)
HON. JUANITA MILLENDER-McDONALD
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
THURSDAY, JULY 15, 1999
The House in Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union had under
consideration the bill (H.R. 2490) making appropriations for the Treasury
Department, the United States Postal Service, the Executive Office of the
President, and certain Independent Agencies, for the fiscal year ending
September 30, 2000, and for other purposes:
- Ms. MILLENDER-McDONALD. Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong support of the
Lowey provision within the Treasury-Postal Appropriations bill. Last year, we
passed this language with bipartisan support, and I believe we can and will do
so again today.
- Before this provision was enacted, 81% of all federal employee health
benefit (FEHB) plans did not cover the most commonly used types of
prescription contraception while an entire 10% covered no prescription
contraception at all. At a time when nearly half of all pregnancies in this
country are unintended, the need for access to reliable, effective
contraception has never been more imperative.
- Access to contraception helps children and families more than anyone else.
Parents want to prepare for responsible parenting and want their children to
grow up in a loving, supportive environment when they are prepared to provide
it. They need the power to plan for pregnancy in order to do this.
- This is just common sense--access to contraceptives is access to basic,
essential prescription drugs and devices that can decrease the number of
abortions in this country, which is an objective all Members of Congress seek
- Contraception is not abortion. Doctors, scientists and the Food and Drug
Administration, which approves contraceptive drugs and devices all confirm
that contraceptives prevent pregnancy. It does not end it. This bill states an
unequivocal prohibition on the coverage of abortion. It also makes a clear
distinction between the five major forms of contraception and mifepristone,
better known as RU-486. If RU-486 is ever approved by the FDA as a method of
abortion, it will not be included in this bill as a contraceptive. I applaud
the efforts of our colleagues, who have worked very hard to ensure that this
language addresses contraception, andcontraception alone.
- In addition to contributing to the national effort to lower the number of
abortions, this provision narrows the gender gap in out-of-pocket costs for
medical care. Women of reproductive age spend approximately 68% more in
out-of-pocket health care costs than men. Requiring health plans to cover
contraception, which without coverage can significantly affect and add to a
woman's annual costs, helps both women and men in managing their families'
expenses. Saving money while practicing responsible family planning is
something we should all espouse.
- The money saved by these families generates minimal cost to the
government. This provision has what Congressional Budget Office calls a
- Finally, this language explicitly excludes religious providers from this
requirement and gives individual providers the chance to opt out of providing
- I urge my colleagues to join me in maintaining the Lowey provision of the
Treasury bill. It creates vital access to contraception, helps to lower the
number of unintended pregnancies, narrows the chasm between women and men in
out-of-pocket costs for medical care, and has virtually no budgetary impact.
America's families need our leadership and sound judgment. We must respond and
vote to maintain this sound legislation.