Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Legislating Abortion via Healthcare Reform


Healthcare reform is on the verge of being passed. In fact, it has passed several House sub-committees and is on its way to being voted on by the Senate. But, in a surprise twist this past weekend, the bill that has come out of its passing by the House had, attached to it, a piece of legislation put together and endorsed by Bart Stupak - a Democrat from Michigan - that would effectively turn back the clock on women's rights by decades. The Stupak Amendment would remove abortion coverage from the public option.

That was a really short, simple sentence for an action with such far-reaching implications. Here's the thing. If a woman wants to have an abortion, some insurance will cover that legal, medical procedure. The new public option would allow Americans the opportunity to change insurance companies once a year, should they become unhappy with their current coverage. This creates competition and would quickly drive the price of insurance down to an affordable level. Good thing.

Bad thing: Private plans would be prohibited from extending coverage for abortion procedures if they take in patients who get government subsidies. If you make less than $88,000 a year, then you get government subsidies for your insurance. So if this version of the Healthcare Reform Bill passes, then you can't even buy private insurance that includes abortion coverage if you want to. If you want to opt-in to that cheaper insurance, the insurance you would get through the public option, and you happen to want reproductive health coverage, then you're out of luck. Philip Klein summed it up best in the American Spectator:

Currently, women are able to purchase private health care plans that cover abortion because it remains a legal procedure and we still have a private market for the sale of health insurance. But if the House Democratic health care bill becomes law, individuals will only be allowed to purchase health insurance through a government-run exchange. And because millions of Americans will be using government subsidies to purchase insurance through the exchange, suddenly lawmakers get to have a say on what kind of private insurance policies individuals can purchase.

President Obama has already come out against this attachment stating, "This is a healthcare bill, not an abortion bill." However, in September he made the statement that "no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions." With this language it is difficult to learn which version of the bill will be endorsed by Obama. Granted, his anti-Stupak statements came out today, while the others are 2 months old. But, can someone's intrinsic views of abortion, and the government's ability to legislate that choice, really be changed in a month and a half? No. That's a ludicrous fantasy. While my personal views on abortion lean more on the conservative end, I am completely pro-choice. I don't have a vagina and don't feel I can ever tell someone who has one what they can do with it. Nor should our government.

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

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