Abortion-Exclusive Health Care Reform Is Not Reform At All


For the past few weeks, pundits
and politicians have been fumbling the abortion funding question when
it comes to health care reform.  Whether it’s an
"abortion neutral" proposal
, supplementary abortion
coverage
, shifting the burden to the already over-taxed private abortion
fund network
, or,
at the most extreme, a flat-out bar on abortion coverage in health care
reform, these iterations all have one thing in common:  they blithely
disregard the effect of such proposals on the actual women and families
who choose abortion.   

Here’s why any health care
reform that excludes abortion is not "reform" at all: 

Abortion is part of basic
health care

Abortion care is part of reproductive
health care, a basic health care need.  Women and families need
access to the full range of basic health care to make healthy decisions
about their lives and futures.   

True health care reform
must mandate that all health care plans meet a minimum benefits standard
that includes abortion, because abortion is an essential health benefit
and is one of the most common surgical procedures – a procedure that
one in every three women in the U.S. will have.  

Remember: the women and families
who choose abortion aren’t trying to score political points or send
a message to their senators – they’re simply trying to make the
best, healthiest decision for themselves and for families they have
now.  If health care needs, not politics, were driving health care
reform, then the mandate for abortion coverage would be clear. 

Barring abortion coverage
would be an expansion of existing inequality.

The other part of this picture,
of course, is that women who currently do not have abortion coverage
must make extreme and unfair sacrifices in order to make the decision
that is best for their families.  Women cut back on food for their
families, skip utility payments, sell necessities such as family cars,
and even delay their rent in order to cover the cost of their abortions. 

Ever since the Hyde Amendment
passed in 1976, banning federal Medicaid coverage of abortion, private
abortion funds have been doing what the government should be doing:
giving women the resources they need to obtain abortion care. 
And even with the tireless work of more than 100 grassroots abortion
funds and thousands of volunteers, there are tens of thousands of women
who cannot afford their abortions each year.   

Any health care reform which
would perpetuate – in fact, expand
- the inequality inherent in the status quo is a travesty, pure and
simple. 

And prohibiting abortion coverage
under health care reform likely would expand that inequality. 
If health care reform were to bar coverage for abortion, millions more
women would stand to lose the private abortion coverage they have now,
resulting in an entirely new population reliant on abortion funds for
a basic health care procedure.  The private sphere simply cannot
meet such staggering need. 

Nor should it. 

U.S. voters want
abortion to be covered by health care reform.

The good news is that we’ve
proven willing to shed ourselves of this unfair status quo.  Nearly
three quarters of us see that reproductive health care, abortion included,
is basic to the health and wellbeing of ourselves and our neighbors. 

The media may be busy selling
us a different story, but the truth is that over
70% of U.S. voters support covering reproductive health
care, including abortion, in health care reform.
  Even more-an impressive 72%-said
they’d be "angry" if Congress mandated by law that abortion would
not be covered under a national health care plan. Indeed, nearly 2/3
of U.S. voters would rather have no heath care reform than have
reform that excludes reproductive health care services such as abortion.

The vast majority of voters
can hardly be cast as a special interest group keen on holding up health
care reform.  If that mantle belongs to anyone, it’s the disingenuous
politicians exaggerating the sentiments surrounding abortion coverage
in order to blockade reform that the vast majority of families want
and need.  Or the complicit mainstream media, happy to tell whichever
story has the most dramatic potential, with little regard for what is
real. 

We know that the real stories,
however, can be found in kitchen table conversations or in the act of
balancing a checkbook.  They can be found in the decisions that
women and families are making every day, and in the health care choices
made by hundreds of thousands of women and families each year.   

We have before us a historic
opportunity to redress decades of unequal treatment and poor and absent
health care. An opportunity to reform a system that undervalues the
real and complex decisions that women and families face.   

We’re ready to belong
to a society that provides women and their families with the tools they
need to make good decisions about the long-term health of themselves
and their families. 
 

If only politicians and the
media would catch up.  

Take action! Contact
your representative with the message that you stand for women and their
families – that you stand for abortion in health care reform.
 
Write a letter to the editor declaring that abortion is a basic health
care need.  Women and families in the U.S. can’t afford a silent
majority.

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  • noworsethanusual

    I wouldn’t rely too much on that single poll if I were you. You’ve linked to a press release by the group that paid for the poll. But the antis eventually got hold of the actual poll questions and they’ve pretty much discredited it — the pollster stacked the deck by deliberately mixing up contraceptives, treatment for miscarriages, and a couple of other issues, plus abortion, all in the same question. The polls that ask just about covering abortion get real different results. The politicians know this.

     

    Also, you’ve been misled by some of the media coverage. I’ve looked into this, and the bills that the White House is behind, the bills that have already come out of committees in the Senate and the House, are really in line with what you want. Senator Kennedy’s "Affordable Health Choice Act" contains language that effectively requires coverage of abortions as part of an "essential benefits" package, which both the public plan and most private plans would have to cover. And in the House Energy and Commerce Committee Congressman Henry Waxman and Congresswoman Lois Capps, both pro-choice stalwarts, beat back the antis and won adoption of the Capps amendment. The Capps amendment grants the secretary of health and human services complete authority to cover all abortions. Which, of course, she will do.

     

    The Capps amendment even requires that every single person who enrolls in the public option will be required to pay an additional fee to cover the abortions. The beauty of it is that, even though the federal agency will collect these fees and will pay the abortion providers, technically it can be argued that these are not "taxes," so now lots of journalists are willing to write stories saying that the bill does not require "taxpayer funding" of abortions. This is helpful to keeping abortion coverage in the bill.
    So relax. If Obama, Pelosi, Waxman, and the others can pull this off, they will be delivering exactly what you want — full coverage of abortion under the public option.

     

    Remember, Barack Obama stood before the Planned Parenthood Action Fund on July 17, 2007, and he promised to support a public plan and that abortion services would be covered under the public plan. He said, "It’ll be a plan that will provide all essential services, including reproductive services." And also, he promised that private insurance plans would have to cover abortions — "We also will subsidize those who prefer to stay in the private insurance market – except the insurers are going to have to abide by the same rules in terms of providing comprehensive care, including reproductive care."

     

    He is trying to deliver. You just have to be willing to play along for awhile with this doubletalk about "abortion neutrality" and "no taxpayer funding of abortion."

  • larry-j

    You guys should really stop flogging that Mellman push poll.  It wasn’t hard to find: just a bit of google and fixing a link that was (accidentally?) broken.

    When Stupak-Pitts failed, we got on board with those opposing reform, but I’d be at town halls stumping for the public option myself if you guys went this route…

     


    http://www.slate.com/id/2225272/

     

    Your friendly neighborhood ‘anti’,

     

    Larry

  • grayduck

    In nearly all cases (and I would be happy to provide substantiation), abortions result because either a man chooses to engage in sexual intercourse without being fully committed to being a good father and husband or a woman chooses to engage in sexual intercourse without being fully committed to being a good mother and wife or both. Selfishness and irresponsibility are not "basic health care" and promoting them is not a good use of the nation’s health care spending. Women who obtain abortions and the men who impregnate them are not "simply trying to make the best, healthiest decision for themselves and for families they have now." Rather, they are trying to gratify their sexual urges in a way that shows absolutely no regard for the society around them. The government should not be giving money to freeloaders like them.

     

    "[O]ver 70% of U.S. voters support covering reproductive health care, including abortion, in health care reform."
    That poll was paid for by an organization which is an advocacy organization with respect to the subject matter. The same is true of the organization that performed the poll. Few details were given on polling methods and the questions asked were not provided.

     

    http://www.abortiondiscussion.com

  • kate-ranieri

    I take offense at the implications of your post that makes having sex selfish and irresponsible and that if they become pregnant they show disregard for society. Unless I’ve missed the news, consenting adults can and will have sex without your permission or without the consent of society.

    And, for your information, deciding on an abortion is a complex and very personal decision. The reasons for abortion are as varied and complicated as their are women. But you overly simplify the decision that is best for a woman, lump all women into one category and then malign them as freeloaders. While I understand an antiabortionist like yourself would not want to pay for abortions, consider that others may not want to pay for geriatric care or erectile dysfunction medications or HIV treatments. We all have to do what is in the best interest of the community. I invite you to consider that we all have to pay for things from time to time that we don’t like (like the Iraq war or public education when you have no school age children).

    Finally, your link to http://www.abortiondiscussion.com is at best self-serving since your prolife posts proliferate.

  • crowepps

    Selfishness and irresponsibility are not “basic health care”

    Really? This begins to make sense. They’re going to be able to balance the books in health care reform by excluding from coverage the one-third of Americans who are obese through selfishness and irresponsibility and the 20% who are selfish and irresponsible and SMOKE and the 30% who just can’t handle all that LIKKER! If they ALSO exclude the 95% of Americans who have premarital sex then they will need only a tiny amount of money to cover the tiny percentage of Puritans and the economy will be saved!!

     

    Back in the real world, when strangers (the majority) “gratify their sexual urges in a way that shows absolutely no regard for the society around them” (the tiny minority of the jealous aged impotent and neo-Puritans horrified by disgusting, filthy sex) I would just as soon that society didn’t ALSO have to cover the costs of an unwanted pregnancy and support any resultant unwanted children.

  • kate-ranieri

    Take a look at GrayDuck’s self promotion on http://www.abortiondiscussion.com, specifically about

    http://abortiondiscussion.com/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=12 

     "In my view, the principle cause of abortions in the United States, in the present era, is what I will call "reproductive freeloading." By reproductive freeloading, I mean attempts by men to extend their reproductive success beyond the limits of their financial and physical capacities by manipulating other people into bearing the burden of raising some of their children." And there is more…

    Notice that  GrayDuck has some serious issues with men.

  • grayduck

    "…the [implication] of your post [is] that…having sex [is] selfish and irresponsible and that if [women] become pregnant they show disregard for society."

     

    Nonsense. Read it again.

     

    "[D]eciding on an abortion is a complex and very personal decision. The reasons for abortion are as varied and complicated as their are women."

     

    In a tiny minority of cases, yes. But the data clearly indicate that the vast majority of abortions result because the future-father chooses to engage in sexual intercourse without being fully willing and able to support and protect the future-mother and their resulting child. There is nothing complex or personal about selfishness and irresponsibility.

     

    "But you overly simplify the decision that is best for a woman, lump all women into one category and then malign them as freeloaders."

     

    I never lumped all women into one category. Nor did I restrict my criticism to women. Quite the opposite; men are at least as much to blame for abortion as women.

     

    "While I understand an antiabortionist like yourself would not want to pay for abortions, consider that others may not want to pay for geriatric care or erectile dysfunction medications or HIV treatments."

     

    And they have every right to protest public funding of those health care services.

     

    "We all have to do what is in the best interest of the community."

     

    Then we all must oppose government funding of abortions.

     

    "I invite you to consider that we all have to pay for things from time to time that we don’t like (like the Iraq war or public education when you have no school age children)."

     

    Nonsense; our nations and states can stop funding any government program at any time. The question is whether we want to subsidize a behavior that hurts the members of society.

     

    "Finally, your link to http://www.abortiondiscussion.com is at best self-serving since your prolife posts proliferate."

     

    Go ahead and post your opinions on the site. The site is the only viewpoint-neutral abortion board on the internet.

     

    http://www.abortiondiscussion.com

  • colleen

    But the data clearly indicate that the vast majority of abortions result because the future-father chooses to engage in sexual intercourse without being fully willing and able to support and protect the future-mother and their resulting child. There is nothing complex or personal about selfishness and irresponsibility.

    What data is that?

    Go ahead and post your opinions on the site.

    Fat chance.

    The only difference between the American anti-abortion movement and the Taliban is about 8,000 miles.

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • grayduck

    "What data is that?"

     

    One reliable source of data that I use is the set of reports issued by the Minnesota Department of Health focusing on abortions done in Minnesota. Those statistics reveal that at least eighty-five percent of the fathers did not bother to marry the mother before impregnating her. That is, eighty-five percent of the women were unmarried and an unknown percentage were married but not to the father. In comparison, fewer than a third of births were to unmarried women in 2007.

     

    http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/chs/abrpt/2008abrpt.pdf

    http://datacenter.kidscount.org/data/acrossstates/Rankings.aspx?ind=7

    http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/chs/annsum/07annsum/Natality07.pdf

     

    Being unwilling or unable to pay the $110 for a marriage license is hardly consistent with a man being willing and able to adequately provide the resources and protection that is needed by the child to enjoy a healthy and happy life and by the mother of the child to raise the child properly and without undue burden.

     

    In-depth studies of why women choose abortion indicate that a deficiency of support from the father is a factor in most abortions. For instance, a Guttmacher study on why women abort found that "more than half of the women in the qualitative sample cited concerns about their relationship or single motherhood as a reason to end the pregnancy. Relationship problems included the partner’s drinking, physical abuse, unfaithfulness, unreliability, immaturity and absence (often due to incarceration or responsibilities to his other children). Many of these women were disappointed because their partner had reacted to the pregnancy by denying paternity, breaking off communication with them or saying that they did not want a child." The study concluded by saying "the themes of responsibility to others and resource limitations, such as financial constraints and lack of partner support, recurred throughout the study."

     

    http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/journals/3711005.html

     

    Both the Minnesota statistics and the Guttmacher study show that virtually all abortions are obtained for reasons that the father almost certainly knew about, or could have known about, when he impregnated the woman. If he was committed to the best interests of the woman and his child, he would not have impregnated the woman.

     

    Solid scientific evidence shows that adultery, fornication, and rape- which account for the vast majority of aborted pregnancies- are an attempt by men to procreate without fully bearing the costs of fatherhood. For example, a 2005 University of Washington study found that states employing strict enforcement of child support have up to 20 percent fewer unmarried births than states that are lax about getting unmarried fathers to pay. The study authors theorized that forcing unmarried fathers to support their children financially might deter them from letting a pregnancy occur, or else motivate them to marry the mother if it did.

     

    http://www.uwnews.org/article.asp?articleID=10608

     

    Other sources of data, like statistics on abortions in other states and nations, similarly show that nearly all abortions result because the father chooses to engage in sexual intercourse without being fully committed to being a good father and husband.

     

    http://www.abortiondiscussion.com