History was made last night as the House of Representatives passed a health care reform bill, and now it’s up to the Senate to pass one as well. The bill passed does have a public option and will help control health care expenses in the coming decades. This bill was not passed without significant compromise, but one of the compromises made me really angry.
Representative Bart Stupak, who is from Michigan, decided his vote was contingent on being able to offer an amendment to the health care reform bill to prevent any federal money used in the new health care exchange from paying for abortion services. Nevermind that abortion is one of the most common surgical procedures performed in the United States. Nevermind that abortion is legal, and has been, for more than 30 years in the United States. Nevermind that access to abortion services is supported by the majority of Americans. To Bart Stupak, all of this is meaningless because he does not support abortion and since he gets to vote on this health care bill and you don’t, his opinion matters more than yours. The price for Bart Stupak‘s support for health care reform is simple, sacrificing women’s rights.
I find it interesting that, as a man, Bart Stupak gets to decide what medical services should be afforded to woman in this country. Rep. Stupak will never personally need to have an abortion, so I guess from his perspective it’s okay to limit peoples access to abortion services. The effect of his amendment will not outlaw abortion, but it will make it tougher for people who need an abortion to pay for it. Since the new health care exchange won’t be permitted to provide coverage for abortion services with federal money, anyone who gets insurance through the new health care exchange will need to pay out of pocket for an abortion or additional insurance to cover abortion services. I don’t know about you, but my understanding is that most woman don’t plan on having abortions so it’s going to be difficult to convince them to pay extra for a service they don’t believe they will need in the future.
To add insult to injury, the woman who are purchasing insurance on the new health care exchange are likely receiving assistance to pay for the insurance. This means it’s unlikely they can afford to purchase additional insurance to cover abortion services. In effect, this will make abortion services something that only rich women can afford, creating a tiered health care system for women. Is that what we want when we are working to expand health care to cover most, if not all, of Americans?
I can only speculate what goes through Bart Stupak‘s mind when deciding to expand health care but limit health care options for women. This reminds me of the discussion between Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Sen. Jon Kyl about providing maternity care, which I’ve provided below. The thing is, there are lots of services that I don’t use when I have health insurance, but we all pay because we don’t know when we may need those services in the future. I may not need dialysis coverage now, but if I go into renal failure in the future I’m going to be glad I have it. The money I spend to pay for health insurance covers everyone who has health insurance and it should not be up to me or Bart Stupak or anyone else what services someone else gets to receive. It should be a decision made by the patient and their doctor. End of story.
Abortion may be something that people feel icky about, but it’s a legal medical procedure that more than 1 million women utilize every year. It should not be a political bargaining chip to convince someone to support health care reform. I think we should look at passing an amendment that erectile dysfunction treatment should not be covered by any insurance offered on the new health care exchange. The reasoning is simple, if old men didn’t get boners they would not impregnant the women they are having sex with, therefore no abortion needed. However, I don’t think you would get much support for such an amendment because it discriminates against men, but I don’t see the difference between not providing coverage for abortion and not providing coverage for erectile dysfunction. Maybe Bart Stupak can explain the difference if you call his office and ask him really nice, he can be reached at (202) 225 4735.