Friday, August 14, 2009

"Abortion Neutrality" In Health Care Reform: Unjust and Unfaithful

I have found the reports of the town halls about health care reform appalling. I simply do not understand how so many people believe the lies and distortions -- but even more, I don't understand how people don't believe that everyone deserves health care.

And that health care should cover all medical services.

Once again, abortion is taking center stage as a key area of public debate. I was called yesterday by a DC colleague and told that the faith community was getting behind "abortion neutrality" in health care reform.

What would that mean? It would mean the public option would not include abortion services and that private options need not include reproductive health care. Translation: poor and low income women would have no coverage for abortion services. Other women, who opt for the public option because they work for a small business, are self employed, or unemployed, would have no coverage.

This doesn't seem like "neutrality" to me. It sounds like selling out women again for political expediency.

That's why I added my name to this letter signed by diverse religious leaders, raising our voices to the inclusion of reproductive health care services in health care reform. I've reprinted it below.

I desperately believe we need health care for everyone. But, I implore the White House and the Democrats in Congress not to abandon their commitments to choice to do it.

Letter from National Religious Leaders to Members of Congress Urging Access to Abortion in Health Care Reform August 13, 2009

Dear Members of Congress,

As religious leaders, we support public policies that are just and compassionate and prioritize the needs of those who are poor and marginalized in our society. Therefore we are opposed to attempts - many made in the name of religion and morality - to exclude abortion services from health care reform.

While our reasons for supporting the inclusion of abortion services in health care are diverse, they are grounded in the teachings of our faith traditions and our commitment to social justice. The majority of faith groups in America have affirmed that abortion is a decision of conscience that should be safeguarded by government. Further, these faith traditions affirm that health care services, including abortion, must be available to all, regardless of income.

If coverage for abortion is eliminated from health care reform, the poor and communities of color will bear the consequences. Already, a low-income woman is four times as likely to have an unintended pregnancy and five times as likely to have an unintended birth as her higher income counterpart. Lack of access to abortion services perpetuates inequality and compromises the future of women, their families and their communities. In this religiously pluralistic nation, our health care system should be inclusive and respectful of diverse religious beliefs and decisions regarding childbearing. One in three American women has an abortion by age 45, making it one of the most common medical procedures in the nation. Ignoring this truth belies the rhetoric of comprehensive, accessible health care.

A health care system that serves all persons with dignity and equality will include comprehensive reproductive health services. We call on Congress to preserve the current standard of reproductive health care and ensure that millions of uninsured and underinsured women will have access to these services. Thank you for your consideration.


Bill Baar said...

I simply do not understand how so many people believe the lies and distortions....

Not sure if you've ever invited anyone for a chat on these issues over coffee or a beer, but pleas know the attitude you bring here a real non-starter.

Desmond Ravenstone said...

People will believe what they want to believe. Look how many people continue to believe the distortions about Plan B.

Now we have people literally screaming about "death panels" which have never even been proposed, simply because enough far-right pundits have been screaming about it on the airwaves.

But, back to the issue of "abortion neutrality" ... if it's a licit medical procedure, then it should be treated the same as any comparable medical procedure. So I would think an authentic neturality policy would be to leave the decision-making to patients in consultation with their health care providers -- not have bureaucrats in either government or insurance corporations decide for them.

Reboloke said...

"One in three American women has an abortion by age 45"

Wow, maybe it's just me, but that statistic is shocking....

Bill Baar said...

Well, email Mr. Blumenthal, Dr.Perlin, Dr. Halamka on HHS Health Technology Panel and ask them what the Efficiency Standards they've targeted for 2015 include. Efficiency Standards imposed on inpatient and outpatient care on a system to be reformed on a system where the bulk of the costs occur in the last years of life. A system the Administration calls broken.

This is pretty vast power granted to a handful of men (and they mostly seem men) to put practice standards on our whole health system.

BAC said...

Thanks for posting this, I share your concerns.


Pam said...

I've said this before and I'll say it again: the public health care option is already on the ropes, and including abortion in the deal will kill it. I am RABIDLY pro-choice, but insisting on this will give so much ammo to the people who oppose health care - can't you hear them? "The government wants to use your tax dollars to kill babies!"

Most Americans don't see abortion as a "regular medical procedure." They think it's horrible, and they don't so much support it as they don't want pregnant women to be put in jail, don't want the government interfering with their private lives - and of course want it available for women in extreme circumstances (rape, incest, danger to health).

Most importantly, most Americans don't care about the low income women who are going to be hurt by this disproportionately, because they see unwanted pregnancies as the fault of the people involved. Even if they believe that those women should be able to have abortions if they so desire, they don't want to pay for it.

And if it's in the public health option, they won't want to pay for that either.