GOP Proposes Excluding Abortion from Employer Provided Health Care

The new congress has many issues to address such as immigration, jobs, education, clean energy, and abortion. After the State of the Union, representatives of the Republican-led house argued for a smaller government that for instance does not place restrictions on businesses. From the oil spill in the Gulf (environment) to skyrocketing health care costs, Republicans advocate that business be left alone without any regulations. Yet, they are exempting abortion for the discussion of smaller government. When the issue of abortion is at hand, Republicans overlook regulations on business.

Republicans are advocating a restriction on businesses from providing health insurance plans that supply abortion coverage to their employees. If the business does provide health insurance with abortion coverage, then the business will fail to receive tax subsidies. Stephanie Condon of CBSNEWS explains how this legislation would be an extension of the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funding for abortions. For economic efficiency purposes, business will be compelled to choose health care options that do not cover abortions.

In the world of number crunching, the proposed restriction on business makes it much more feasible for a business to choose a health care plan with no abortion coverage than with one. With the middle class shrinking, this will push abortions to be inaccessible for many.  [Read more...]

Stupak: It’s Hard Not to Take it Personally

Guest writer Sarah Warren is a professor of modern art history at Purchase College, SUNY. She is currently writing a book about the interchange between the nationalism and the avant-garde in pre-Revolutionary Russia. She lives in New York City. These are her words.

I have had two abortions. In both cases I had planned to get pregnant and was overjoyed (though also terrified) that I was going to have a baby. I had negotiated my parental leave from work, stopped drinking alcohol, rearranged my apartment to accommodate a nursery, and fantasized endlessly about my little munchkin. And in both cases I underwent incredibly painful termination procedures because (the first time) I wasn’t willing to be disabled by my pregnancy, and (the second time) I wasn’t willing to knowingly give birth to a severely disabled child. I have private insurance that covered all my costs, but it is a large insurer that serves state employees, and would undoubtedly be part of the federal health care exchange that is covered in the Stupak Amendment. If the Stupak Amendment had been law at the time, I would have had to pay for both procedures myself. According to commenters like Phillip Levine (in his November 25, ope-ed for the New York Times), this does not constitute a major blow to reproductive choice in the United States because most of the women who currently have private health insurance also have the financial means to cover most of the abortions they are likely to have. This “most” scenario may be comforting in the abstract, but the individual circumstances of women’s reproductive lives often do not line up with abstract ideals about choice and life.

In my first pregnancy, early screening tests indicated a 75% chance of genetic or anatomic abnormalities in the fetus. This was revealed at the same time that an enormous fibroid (bigger than the baby) had begun to degenerate. It was extremely painful, I hadn’t slept in three days, and my obstetrician had even prescribed codeine because she felt that it would be less harmful than my pain and distress. After looking at the growth history and location of the fibroid, she also warned that I should prepare myself for several potential hospital stays to deal with bleeding from the fibroid, as well as a special C-section (higher risk than normal, but not life-threatening) from just below my rib-cage.

At that point I decided to terminate the pregnancy. Because of the fibroid, the procedure was complicated and, even though there were two doctors performing it, took twice as long as expected. This meant the local anesthetic I was given wore off about halfway through. In retrospect, I realize I could have waited two weeks for a genetic test, and then, if the results had been reasonable, waited for successive ultrasound scans to determine if there were serious anatomical abnormalities. However, I would have had to be willing to continue missing work and living in pain, while waiting to find out if my pregnancy was viable. I often regret my decision (especially after later tests revealed no genetic defects), but realistically, I know I would probably do the same today. [Read more...]

Against Compulsory Ultrasound Legislation

I went back and forth on the title of this post, from what it is to, “For Sensible Ultrasound Legislation.” Perhaps that gives some insight into how very prickly this subject can be.

In the past few years, several states have entertained legislation dealing with varying requirements involving ultrasound technology and abortion. These range from offering an ultrasound to mandating both an ultrasound and a discussion of the development of the fetus. Some include funding, some make the woman pay. Some apply to all abortions, some only after the first trimester. These provisions are as different and nuanced as can be, so it would be ill-considered to condemn or celebrate all of them.

Nebraska is the latest state to adopt ultrasound legislation. Ultrasounds are not usually considered medically necessary for first-trimester abortions. Many clinics provide the option already, however.
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