Abortion Should Not Imperil Health Care Reform

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The House vote to establish near-universal health-care coverage came at a steep cost to women. That cost, issued as an amendment by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), eliminates abortion coverage by private insurance companies even when women are paying for all or most of the premium.

Stupak’s amendment is a cynical attempt to push an anti-choice agenda that imperils badly needed reform. His amendment restricts women’s access to abortion coverage in the private health insurance market as well as in a “public option,” undermining the ability of women to purchase private health plans that cover abortion. It reaches much further than the Hyde Amendment, which has prohibited public funding of abortion in most instances since 1977.

Before its introduction, health-care reform measures in both House and Senate contained agreed-upon compromise language regarding abortion. Public funding for abortion would remain prohibited and women with private health insurance would continue to receive benefits they already have. Though this language satisfied neither side completely, it enabled health-care reform legislation to move forward without being derailed by abortion politics.

In addition to undermining the reform effort, the amendment would affect more than one in four American women who have at least one abortion during their reproductive years. Tens of millions of women will be required to pay for health-care coverage that expressly excludes one of their most commonly requested medical procedures.

The Stupak Amendment, like the Hyde Amendment, only allows abortion in cases of rape, incest and for medical complications that “place the woman in danger of death unless an abortion is performed.” However, if the woman’s health is in jeopardy – if her pregnancy risks organ failure or infertility, but not death – then there is no coverage for care. The woman’s health is placed at risk.

Women’s health care should not be sacrificed on the altar of reform. President Obama has repeatedly said that under health care reform, “no one will lose the benefits they currently have.”

The House bill now embraces a lesser ideal: No man will lose the benefits he currently has.

Is this sexual discrimination or abortion politics? Frankly, the two are inseparable. The 11th-hour amendment is just the latest example of statutes, regulations, medical standards and corporate policies that have historically caused women to pay more, suffer more and receive less.

Examples abound even today. Pharmacists refuse to fill prescriptions for birth-control pills. The FDA imposed unwarranted and unscientific age limits on over-the-counter access to emergency contraception. Health insurance companies demand higher premiums from women employees than for men.

It’s no wonder women pay nearly 68 percent more than men – much of it resulting from the uninsured expenses of reproductive health care.

The promise of reform was supposed to remedy all that. Health-care reform sought not only to expand coverage but also to reduce gender discrimination. No longer would women have to pay more than men for the same insurance policy. No longer could pregnancy or womanhood be treated as pre-existing conditions. No longer would women be denied affordable contraceptives.

And all women’s health centers would finally be recognized as essential community providers no less than centers that cater to other segments of the population.

Because of Rep. Stupak, the House further entrenched a two-tiered health-care system that limits access to care for women.

If Congress is capable of enacting health-care reform, it is capable of treating women as equals who don’t have to settle for less. Already, members of the House and Senate pro-choice caucus are pledging to withhold their final votes unless the Stupak Amendment is removed.

Abortion politics should not scuttle health-care reform. The Stupak Amendment must be eliminated.

Melissa Reed is Vice President for Public Policy for Planned Parenthood Health Systems

9 replies »

  1. Setting aside the cases where medical necessity is a factor, abortion is at least as much health care as, say, cosmetic plastic surgery. If an insurer wishes to provide a plan that covers cosmetic surgery and a woman chooses to purchase such plan with her own money, how is that anybody’s business? I don’t see an amendment banning cosmetic surgery from the exchange.
    How about banning plans that cover treatment for Erectile Dysfunction? Surely that is as elective as it gets. Maybe you’d have less abortions if old men, chemically outfitted, stopped running around chasing young girls half their age.

  2. Abortion is not “women’s healthcare”. In fact, abortion is not healthcare at all. It is an elective procedure done with no medical indication, except in the rare instance where the mother’s life is in danger. The context of this discussion does not include such instances, however.
    Roughly there are 11 males born for every 10 females. That make abortion relatively more dangerous for men than women.
    Can you imagine 45 million more democrats running around voting and trying to get on programs? What a world without elective capricious terminations of humans.
    Has anyone ever studies the mother’s choice of abortion or no abortion based on the gender of the proposed abortus?

  3. A CNN poll found that 61% of Americans reject abortion funding, while only 37% believe it is acceptable.
    Allowing any funding is a violation to the coinsciencess of taxpayers to force us to fund elective abortions or plans that cover elective abortions.

  4. “Melissa Reed is Vice President for Public Policy for Planned Parenthood Health Systems”
    If Ms. Reed and her group are so concerned about access to abortion, then provide the service for little or no cost to those who are affected. Planned Parenthood makes millions of dollars each year on “reproductive services”, including abortion, so they stand to loose financially if this most lucrative procedure is no longer covered.
    Once again this is all about money, not “rights” or “choice”.

  5. Melissa look up the word insurance and what it means and you would solve your ridiclous problems. Abortion shouldn’t be covered by any insurance as it only cost a couple hundred dollars and is self inflicted, and when it is not self inflicted it is covered. Basic math would tell you insuring something you are going to do to yourself is pretty stupid. Keep the insurance premium pay for your own abortion and have 20% left.
    At the same time women start paying the same rate as men for health insurance are you going to start paying more for your life insurance and auto insurance? WHy is it your lower rates for those coverages never bothered you enough to blog? So you want equality unless your already benefiting then status quo is ok?
    1 in 4 women do not have an abortion in their lifetime. Why is it liberals are incapable of basic research. There has only been 45 million abortions since 1973. Assuming no women has had more then one, we know of women having well over a dozen by the way, that would still fall short fo 1 in 4. How is it you people just make crap up and think it is ok?
    I can’t find a single fact in your BS that is accurate. Did you make these all up yourself?

  6. It’s interesting to me when people attacked Bush for the death’s of the soldiers in Iraq (over 2000 mortality’s) when abortion has created the biggest
    “holocaust” the world has ever seen. In the United States alone, 40 million deaths!.. That’s 40 million! compared to 2000? C’mon.. now these 2000 soldiers, including you and me were once a fetus too… that’s undeniable.. do you like your life? do you enjoy it? I do… now why can’t every human being have that right.. or for lack of a better word “choice”… that’s choice!

  7. Unfortunately, this serious issue is being drowned by many half-truths. Please just state your philosophical case (women’s right to choose, etc.) without all the inflated rhetoric.
    “the amendment would affect more than one in four American women who have at least one abortion during their reproductive years.”
    One in Four?!?!? Are you sure you aren’t counting women who have multiple abortions? That sounds like some phony statistic like “one in three women are sexually harassed”.
    “Pharmacists refuse to fill prescriptions for birth-control pills.”
    Really? Where is that where a woman can’t get oral contraception?
    “Health insurance companies demand higher premiums from women employees than for men.”
    That’s not true for the vast majority that get insurance through a large employer.
    It is true in the Individual market … only during their reproductive years. That is because women have higher claim costs, not because health insurance companies have some sinister plot against women.
    FYI: From Age 55 to 65, women pay less than men for Individual health insurance.

  8. First, let me say that our “opinion” is simply just that. This blog is allowing politically left stances to be spoutted about abortion. Sure there are exceptions where bad things happen, but the idea of a 6 or even 8 month baby having a metal spike driven in the head, brain suctioned out, and aborted, is really a travesty to life. You espouse nothing really except your dogma.
    Secondly, democratic senators are supporting the Stupak and similar amendments. So get your facts straight.
    Finally, what is planned parenthood? It’s an organization that likes to place a “right of a woman” without logical arguments, reasons, or any idea of whata value system means in our society.
    Finally, i am actually pro-choice, but its the crazed planned parenthoods that consistently draw me back to anti-abortion completely, because of their lack in acument to ascertain the values of their actions, and societal foundations.
    and to Matt Holt: your far left banter may resonate in California (aka, your sex remark at the conference), but remember you are from England, where anything goes, and while CA may be like that, the rest of America (or at least 80 percent) are not. If you are going to allow Planned Parenthood to spout dogma, a) you are indicating the value of your content and b) apparently the other side is not allowed to comment?