Health care reform funds should not go toward abortion

Stephanie England is an English senior and Mustang Daily political columnist.

Stephanie England is an English senior and Mustang Daily political columnist.

I felt the achievement Saturday when the House health care reform bill passed with bipartisan support. I was especially proud of Rep. Ahn “Joseph” Cao (R-La), who crossed that perilous, dubious isle separating the left and right to cast a vote that will save countless American lives.

Interestingly, Rep. Cao, a former Jesuit seminarian, said that he joined the Republican party because of its opposition to abortion, according to the AP. Abortion is a hot button issue of the Republican party during elections and it’s also their hook into the Christian community, which comprises a large portion of their base.

And yet, people who are anti-abortion should be pro-health care reform too, because passage of the health care reform bill could result in sharp reductions in abortions – and, surprisingly, not because of the Republicans. Because of a Democrat who adhered to the law.

The Hyde Amendment, which the House passed in 1976, forbade the use of federal funds to pay for abortions, except in cases of rape or incest, or when the mother’s life is in danger. Because of this amendment, a House or Senate health care reform bill that uses federal funds to pay for abortions is unlawful.

Knowledge of the Hyde Amendment led Rep. Bart Stupack (D-MI) to put forward his own amendment, which states that no funds authorized or appropriated by the House health care reform bill may be used to pay for “any abortion or to cover any part of the costs of any plan that includes coverage of abortions,” except in cases of rape and incest, or if the health of the mother is in danger.

There is a loophole in the Stupak Amendment, which states that a woman may choose to purchase supplemental coverage for abortions, as long as no state or federal funds go toward that supplemental insurance. This idea is already in practice with Medicare for seniors. Seniors have government subsidized health insurance, and then they can also buy additional coverage through a private insurer.

There’s also a crafty idea within this loophole. If abortion is a procedure obtained in an emergency situation, why would a woman seek a supplemental insurance plan that covers abortion? An abortion can cost anywhere between $500 and $10,000 depending on the trimester, according to Feminist Women’s Health Center, so without private insurance, cost could be a limiting factor for many women in deciding to get an abortion.

Many are arguing that the amendment would greatly reduce abortion rates in America. Sen. Boxer (D-CA) has said she believes the amendment will fail in the Senate, and President Obama said this week that while he doesn’t want to sneak in funding for abortions, he does not want to effectively change the law. For both personal and political reasons, I hope that Democrats join with the moderates in the party and keep a form of this amendment in the Senate version of the health care reform bill.

As a born-again Christian, I believe that life begins at conception and that except in cases of rape, incest, or the health of the mother, abortion should be illegal. I also believe that it should be very easy to both adopt babies and to put them up for adoption, and society should provide much more support for pregnant women and mothers. Pregnancy shouldn’t be such a scary idea that it compels women to turn to an escape route like abortion.

Support for more anti-abortion ideas also seems to be growing, according to an October Pew Research Poll. In 2008, Pew found that 54 percent of those questioned believed that abortion should be legal in most cases. In 2009, the number dropped to 47 percent. In 2008, when asked whether abortion should be illegal in most cases, 40 percent responded affirmatively. In 2009, that number jumped to 45 percent.

I must mention that abortion rates are not as high as I thought. According to a study by the Alan Guttmacher Institute in July 2008, only about 2 percent of women ages 15-44 get an abortion. The institute also shows in a graph that the number of abortions has been dropping since 1981, when abortions peaked at around 3 percent.

However, as the abortion amendment pans out in the Senate, it’s important to remember that because of the 1976 Hyde Amendment, abortion can not be federally funded. Any bill produced that does not include a public option and does not include a type of the Stupak Amendment is not one I would count as a success. Public option health care is achievable and obligatory, but it should also be done in a legal fashion.

  • marisela torres

    I’m glad that the health care reform will not cover abortion. I am extremely against abortion, the fact that abortion did not a become a part of the health reform, made the reform a lot better. I don’t believe it’s right to take the life of a inocent child who can’t even defend itself; and the fact that the child has to pay for the mistake that the the mother made when she decide to have sex without protection, seems wrong. I’m sure their are other problems with the reform, but I’m just glad abortion is not one of them.

    • vanessa

      Plenty of pregnancies occur with the use of contraceptives. Everyone has their own personal feelings, generally religiously based, that contribute to their decisions about whether or not to have an abortion. Everyone has the right to make their own decisions. If you feel opposed to abortion… don’t have one, but don’t restrict the rights of other women, thats unlawful. It’s the Mothers responsibility to consider her own unborn child… outlawing abortions simply limits everyones rights.

  • nomnom

    It might not give money to abortion, but it limits what choices women have in insurance. This is not a good thing. The best thing would be to leave it neutral to abortion, providing no funding for it whatsoever, but not putting loops for women to jump through.

    That\’s fine and dandy you interjected your opinion in the middle of this article, but you must realize that this stance that \"life starts at conception\" is entirely based in faith and has no basis in reality. Enforcing such a view on the entire country would be religious discrimination, as it\’s unique to that religious perspective. All conception is is the joining of egg and sperm, and it is no more alive than the sum of its parts. Aborting it would be no more murderous than menstruation is. And considering a zygote life would be akin to calling the millions of sperm life, and thus 300 million counts of murder during conception alone. Where life comes from is in the mind, the brain, where feelings and consciousness come in. We can observe this and find it to be true without resorting to asking individuals specific religious beliefs. However, it comes in many weeks after conception.

    I find it morally distasteful to see new parents decide to create a human and then just toss it out into the world, into some orphanage or just wait for it to be born and THEN kill it and leave it in a garbage can. If you cannot take care and raise another human being with all your heart, then it should be one\’s obligation to abort it before it becomes human. This is no different than abstaining from sex to prevent a child from happening, because both cases don\’t involve human life yet. Whether you stop the process at sex or at conception doesn\’t matter. We have the capacity to create life so we need to start taking responsibility for it.

    • vanessa

      Well said. Most pregnancies actually miscarry before the mother even knows she is pregnant.

  • CP Alumn

    \"As a born-again Christian, I believe that life begins at conception and that except in cases of rape, incest, or the health of the mother, abortion should be illegal.\"

    When you state that you believe \"life begins at conception\", I am assuming this means that your moral reasons against abortion is because it is ending assumed-life, and therefore life is inherently valuable. However, you make an exception for ending life due to specified circumstances. So are you saying that the life of the child/fetus at conception is not inherently valuable? Or can you explain your reasoning for it being okay to end God-given life because of circumstances around its conception (in the case of incest/rape)?

  • Realist.

    I’ll be sending you a coat hanger you can hand to your friends when their health insurance will not cover there abortions and cannot afford to pay for them.

    Actually, maybe I’ll buy you a multi-pack for when this born-again C-street bill goes through, then you can widely distribute the coat hangers yourself.

    Way to go back to antiquated thinking and policy. And forget Women’s rights! Who needs a federal bill that allows access to healthcare when women have FREE access in their own home, hanging in their closets.

    I’ll still be sending you some, just in case you need more. You may be running low soon.

    • William

      Yes, because god forbid someone actually takes responsibility for their actions rather than taking the easy way out….

  • Selina

    Yes, because a coat hanger is most certainly the easy way out.

    • William

      Was not referring to the coat hangers. Medical abortion is usually an outpatient procedure. Go in, get it done, walk out after checkup. Procedure takes around 15 minutes. That is the easy way out.

      • Selina

        Yep, the easy way out in no way means there’s no psychological consequences for the women at all. In fact, it’s an experience many women look forward too since it’s just so darn easy. Walking into a clinic is a piece of cake, their fears are assuaged away knowing that the all the doctor has to do is scrape their insides. None of them have to live with the guilt of making such a dramatic decision. Nope, I agree with you William, abortion is too easy of a way out. Let’s give them coat hangers, maybe that’ll teach them.

        • William

          *sigh*

  • Levi

    Are you an idiot? it will increase abortions because it WILL be funded.

  • Concerned Male

    It seems to me that the definition of the beginning of a life has always been, and will always be the sticking point in the debate on the legality of abortion. Ultimately, that definition is a matter of personal opinion, and thus abortion is then a personal choice. I know for a fact that I will never have to make this choice, so my opinion is that neither me, nor a chamber dominated by elder white males should use legislation to make available or hinder the ability of any woman to get an abortion. As a result, I think that the health care bill should subsidize plans regardless of the insurance company’s decisions to provide coverage for abortion.

    If Republicans/conservative democrats/politicians were really caring about people’s freedom, they wouldn’t use the health care bill to interfere with a medical choice, a choice personal enough to have repercussions years later. Furthermore, if they can legislate this, they can legislate other personal choices and medical choices. This is not a desirable situation.

  • Pink Hangers

    Anything that you have just stuck in your closet for lack of a better place for it needs to be removed from your home or given a proper location.

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