Sunday, September 20, 2009

Health care reform, abortion, and the already born

(This was originally published elsewhere August 5, 2009. It has been edited slightly.)

I just saw this headline today: "Abortion Coverage Allowed In Health Care Legislation."

Of course, if such coverage is stripped from the bill and it passes, those who join the new insurance exchange would lack coverage others have. And if this bill succeeds in making insurance available to those who cannot now afford it, then the have-nots get screwed yet again, ironically probably by those who say they actually care about the poor, i.e., religious persons.

I am certain that religious groups are already working to kill this legislation.

My problem with some of these groups is their combination of an overly narrow focus on abortion and contempt for human beings, especially those who they consider sinners. Let me explain.

I am willing to bet that most women who have abortions are not evil maniacs who thirst for the blood of the unborn. Most women have what they consider good reasons for aborting. And the fact that religious groups dismiss these reasons out of hand does not by itself show that those reasons are not good.

Some of their reasons undoubtedly arise from a desire to do the right thing. If a poor, unemployed woman finds herself pregnant and without health insurance, and the father is not willing to support her and her unborn child before and after birth, she might reasonably believe that abortion would result in the best consequences overall.

If you're pro-life, let me assure you that I agree with you about one thing: the fewer abortions, the better. The question is, how can we most effectively decrease the number of abortions? What we could collectively do is make it less likely that women who find themselves in situations like these choose abortion. We could do more to make sure that everyone in this country has health insurance. (In fact, if health care reform is passed and more people are insured, it might actually result in a decrease in the number of abortions!) We could do more to make sure that everyone who is employed earns a wage that makes raising children an option. We could do more to make sure that the needs of those who are unemployed through no fault of their own are met.

So here's my question: why don't those folks who so fervently promote the anti-abortion cause in this country also equally fervently promote the cause of economic justice? Compared to the attention abortion gets from the religious right in this country, issues of economic justice get relatively none, in spite of the importance Christianity places on economic justice. If we are to be pro-life in this country, we can't simply force women to complete their pregnancies and then turn our backs on them and their children once they are born. How can I take the pro-life community seriously when their focus is so narrow that they would allow the children they have fought for before their birth to live in squalor after? I think that this is a fair question.

And this is not purely an issue of personal responsibility. If we think we can convince human beings to abstain from sex until pregnancy is a real option, we are simply out of our minds. It's not going to work, ever. This is a fact that we have to deal with, and if we refuse to, we're being irresponsible. In addition, many people find themselves in dire economic straights through no fault of their own. This is plainly obvious once we pull the ideological shades and let the light of reality in.

Neither will the simple plea that woman place their children up for adoption solve this problem. The people whose babies are most in demand are the same people who tend to do better in this economy and are thus more likely to be able to afford abortion; this is the legacy of racism and sexism in this country, and that is a reality too with which we must deal.

Putting children up for adoption is only half the solution; the other half is that we actually adopt children, including those who might not look like us. The mere fact that an abortion has been prevented is not enough; ensuring that those fetuses that were not aborted go on to live happy and productive lives is also important.

Let us all think about this before we try to kill health care reform in this country.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Search This Blog


What I'm Following

It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence. ---W.K. Clifford

Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear. ---Thomas Jefferson