What Choice? Abortion and the Health Care Reform BillNovember 19th, 2009 © by Susan Swartz
The proposed ban on covering abortion, part of the House health care reform bill, has drawn predictable reaction. But one of the most dismaying responses is from those who think it won’t really happen. I understand hoping and wishing that that is the case but that’s not how the anti-choice people work. They think they have conquered the House of Representatives. Now, on to the Senate.
Each restriction on abortion, and this would be a big one, is one step closer to making abortion illegal. And then it’s Tijuana, here we come. Right back to where we started from.
“You never know when unintended pregnancy will strike. Be prepared. Buy our abortion plan today.”
Were Congress to somehow boot the Stupak anti-abortion amendment from a final health care delivery plan, which would be a great relief, do we really think the anti-choice crowd will shrug and slink away? Look how much they’ve already won. They managed to hijack the health care debate and turn it into an abortion battle. They interrupted a complicated national conversation on how to provide health care to all Americans including the millions without health insurance and put the focus on their single cause.
Opponents of abortion said, “You want choice? Here’s your choice.” And then they had their way with a Democrat-controlled House over the objection of its Speaker, who also happens to be a pro-choice mother and grandmother.
The Stupak amendment will apply to only those women who buy health insurance in a government subsidized insurance plan, but why are these women expendable? Plus, their numbers are just going to grow as people change or lose jobs and employers dump their group coverage. Some day there might be no insurance coverage at all for abortion and what would that mean to the hospitals, clinics and doctors who provide them? Would they disappear too? And then?
We know that one. The rich would find a way to get abortions, and low and middle income women would be stuck. And on their way to Tijuana.
You call that health care reform? No, it sounds more like a triumph for the Catholic bishops, the radical religious right, the good old boys in Washington and your basic patriarchal rule.
Of course there is a provision that a woman could buy a separate insurance rider to cover abortion, like you can add earthquake coverage to your basic home and property insurance. And how might that advertisement be written? “You never know when unintended pregnancy will strike. Be prepared. Buy our abortion plan today.”
Maybe the anti-abortion amendment was a ruse to temporarily placate abortion foes. Maybe fair and equitable thinking will prevail.
Then again, people said California would never vote against gay marriage.