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This blog is the work of an educated civilian, not of an expert in the fields discussed.

Friday, March 05, 2010

One More Into The Breach: "Health" and Abortion

And Also: Rep. Stupak has voiced support for 95/10, but I'm really to blame since I had to do an Internet search to determine this. He should be shouting it from the rooftops, every time underlining its importance, since in the end it matters a lot more to those against abortion than his amendment.

Noah tries to convince that the Senate health care bill does not "fund" abortions. This in the face of Rep. Stupak threatening to block it if additional language is put in to selectively target abortions. Why this is a bad idea is suggested here (as usual, nothing to worry about -- only the poor will suffer, they are too small of a group to worry about) but maybe it would help if he spent his time being as enthusiastic spokesperson for one of those 95/10 prevent the need for abortion bills.

There really isn't likely to be a way to make the bill pure enough to totally segregate funds to please some people. These same people assure us we can segregate funds when funding religious organizations. The law doesn't allow to directly fund religious practice, but we can fund religious institutions if they run non-religious things like soup kitchens or abstinence programs, even though money is always somewhat fungible. This they selectively support.

But, I know how these things go, and some Solomon-like solution hopefully can be arranged. All the same, let us not ignore the basic injustice of the current system. Matters of health are not covered for selective reasons of morality. Welfare benefits are provided, even if people choose to use them in a way that furthers their particular religious and moral beliefs. But, a certain medical procedure, one with direct connection to the health of girls and women, is singled out. The only exceptions concern life, rape and incest. Risks to health per se, no.

Roe v. Wade underlined what is at stake here:
The detriment that the State would impose upon the pregnant woman by denying this choice altogether is apparent. Specific and direct harm medically diagnosable even in early pregnancy may be involved. Maternity, or additional offspring, may force upon the woman a distressful life and future. Psychological harm may be imminent. Mental and physical health may be taxed by child care. There is also the distress, for all concerned, associated with the unwanted child, and there is the problem of bringing a child into a family already unable, psychologically and otherwise, to care for it. In other cases, as in this one, the additional difficulties and continuing stigma of unwed motherhood may be involved. All these are factors the woman and her responsible physician necessarily will consider in consultation.

How "elective"* are some of these choices? We make many health choices that are in no way compelled to save our lives. I'm not exactly sure why rape suddenly should by itself be a special unique character in the area of health regulation. Not saying it should not be included. Clearly, psychological health in particular is involved. But, more is involved, matters not really health involved alone at all. OTOH, if another child will tax someone's health (a teenager's pregnancy might be an exception, statutory rape often involved by definition), it would not be covered. The Supreme Court has in fact held in Harris v. McCrae that "medically necessary" abortions need not be covered under the Hyde Amendment.

Why? Because some people think abortion is immoral. The attenuated "funding" at issue here takes this to a certain ridiculous extreme, but let's talk about generally. Why is this fair? Why should health care decisions rely on the moral beliefs of some? Many think it is immoral to have a child in various cases. We need to fund childbirth, however, all the same in various cases. We are not only burdening the individual health choices of women, but selectively favoring the religious beliefs of certain groups. This is both bad policy and blatantly unconstitutional.

I understand it is not seen that way, though taking things as far as Stupak wants might be a close question (not saying the Roberts Court would agree). This doesn't change the basic injustice.


* This op-ed is a mixed bag, but suggests why some are worried about the Stupak Amendment. Some of the comments underline how "elective" (and comparisons to Viagra or breast implants) is to be blunt stupid. Also, it surely isn't a monetary thing -- as Noah notes, the Senate bill does some fancy footwork to avoid the fact that childbirth in fact costs a lot more money.