‘Office of Unborn Children’s Health’ Is Health Care Reform?


Thanks to NARAL’s Blog for Choice’s Molly Jackson for this fascinatingly angering bit of news:

Last week, Congress began the formal process of overhauling the nation’s health-care system as the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee began to mark up** its health-care reform legislation – the Affordable Health Choices Act. This committee is one of five congressional panels with jurisdiction over this broad policy area.

During this first stage of the mark-up process, Republicans filed 300-plus amendments that address women’s health in some way, approximately a dozen of which are anti-choice. Which one do you think jumped out at us right away? An amendment from (whom else?) Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) to establish a federal "Office of Unborn Children’s Health."

The amendment includes requirements that this office develop an "Unborn Child Pain Awareness" brochure that would remind pregnant women seeking information on their options that "There is substantial evidence that the process of being killed in an abortion will cause the unborn child pain…"

Molly notes, as a reminder, that Senator Coburn is the same "pro-life" representative from whose mouth, during his 2004 Senate campaign, these words were uttered: "I favor the death penalty for abortionists and others who take life." 

Are we honestly to believe that at a time when millions of Americans – including those children who are born - lack health insurance and therefore go without necessary health care, we should be devoting finances to an "Office of Unborn Children’s Health"? Is there a reason why Senator Coburn feels we need a Harry Potter/Ministry of Magic sounding governmental department for "unborn children" rather than – oh, say – a full scale financial committment to providing resources for pregnant women to ensure they receive the prenatal care they need for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby? 

Someone should tell Senator Coburn that the United States has one of the worst maternal mortality rates of all industrialized nations, and we rank ahead of only one industrialized country (Latvia) when it comes to infant survival. 

Health care reform is critical in order to improve health outcomes for both women and newborn babies. But this kind of an amendment only serves to deepen the ideological divide between those on both sides of the abortion debate. It does absolutely nothing to improve health care access or Americans’ lives. 

Molly puts it best:

With so many Americans lacking basic health care, it is unconscionable that Sen. Coburn continues to use legislation on this important issue as a means to continue his ideological attacks.

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  • choice-joyce

    The only fetal advocates we need are pregnant women. They are in the best position to take care of their fetuses and ensure a good pregnancy outcome (which can also mean an abortion.)
    The state should have no direct interest in fetuses. Concern for fetuses simply masks disrespect and distrust for women. The role of the state should be to ensure that pregnant women have all the resources they need for a good pregnancy outcome. When a pregnant woman is safe and healthy, so is her fetus.

  • 29834273

    I agree with this post and the previous comment.

    The state should only have interest for born people. Any rights we give to an unborn child are special rights (right to life for an unborn child includes right to live inside another person, right to put a pregnant womans life in danger, right to put a pregnant womans health in danger, right to kick a pregnant woman, etc).

    Abortion is currently the only way a pregnant woman can defend herself against an unborn child. We should not make women feel bad or attempt to make them feel bad for choosing to defend themselves against their unborn children.

  • emma

    I love the way the reactionary right will insist that provision of basic services like health care for born people is the height of and oppressive ‘big government’, but womb control isn’t an infringement on rights at all. Warrantless wiretapping and giving the government the power to detain people without trial and torture them isn’t an imposition on freedom at all, if you’re a right-winger, but nothing should ever violate the sacred right to die from treatable illness.

    Lunacy. Just utter lunacy.

  • invalid-0

    With so many unborn Americans lacking basic health care, it is imperative that Sen. Coburn continues to use legislation on this important issue as a means to advocate their survival.

  • invalid-0

    “There is substantial evidence that the process of being killed in an abortion will cause the unborn child pain.”

    Torture. Only wrong if you are born? It is okay to torture an unborn baby though? If it is wrong to torture another human being wouldn’t that apply to all humans? Or partially deliver the baby and then suck it’s brain out so it comes out dead. Just inches from being born.

    My unborn baby died. I- A WOMAN- have suffered emotionally, physically and psychologically from the death of my unborn baby. If you want to fight for “Women’s rights” then REALLY CARE about the woman. Don’t dismiss her concerns. Let her be informed. Not telling a woman that her “fetus” has a heartbeat, brainwaves, is moving, sucks it’s thumb etc and then letting her find that out later is not helping women. Have actual TRUE consent.

    An office for unborn children would not only help the baby but also the mother AND father. My husband has also been affect by the death of his child yet can he can’t take berevement for the time he had to take off.

    I don’t see where “CHOICE” comes in. Not telling a woman information seems more like oppression.

  • invalid-0

    Anyone that does not believe that a fetus can feel pain needs to do a little research. The fetus repsonds to sound, touch of a hand on the belly, pain if the mother is struck in the stomach during pregnancy, etc. Not only all of this but it has brain function and a heartbeat at 18 days, eyes, ears and respiratory system at 4 weeks, functioning pancreas at 7 weeks to process glucogen, a developing nervous system and brain function. These two are key elements for pain related feelings. IF touched at 7 weeks around the lips the baby will respond in utero to this touch and pull away. Same if you touch his nose at 7 weeks, he will rub his face and pull away. Hence the baby can FEEL at 7 weeks. Many doctors who have performed reconstructive surgeries for tubal preganacies have documented the fetus moving and responding to touch. It has been documented time and time again.

    So anyone that believes a baby has no feelings or cannot feel, needs to open a few perinatal and prenatal medical journals. These studies have been done for decades, and proven that the baby does in fact feel just as you and I. So yes, being sucked out of the uterus for a 1st trimester abortion without any anesthestics, or simply partially delivered to have forceps rammed into the back of the skull to sever the brain stem in a PBA does result in TREMENDOUS pain for the infant. The infant FEELS everything, and it is murder plain and simple. The only reason you do not hear of this is because those in power that wish to promote women’s free choice keep it under wraps. If you are considering an abortion, I suggest you open up a few medical journals and read about EXACTLY what your child will feel during the process.