Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thank Stupak!

As I've mentioned before, the Stupak amendment expands the reach of the Hyde amendment. It would also make it a permanent law. It is very odd to find a Democratic Congress doing more damage to reproductive rights than the last eight years of Bush, very odd indeed.

Two research papers (one by George Washington University Medical Center and one by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation) discuss some of this and the potential consequences of the Stupak amendment on women who need abortions for medical reasons without those reasons qualifying immediately as life-threatening. For example, the pregnancy itself may have turned into a high-risk one, something else may have happened during the pregnancy (say, a car accident) or the woman may suffer from a chronic condition (such as Type I diabetes) which makes abortion medically recommended.

But if a physician will not call the case life-threatening, the costs of such an abortion would not be covered for anyone on public insurance or for anyone who receives federal subsidies. Indeed, the insurance exchange itself is unlikely to offer coverage for medically necessary abortions, because of the small size of the market for one specific procedure and the Stupak requirement that the abortion rider must bear all its own administrative costs.

You find that worrying? I do. Note that currently women on Medicaid are limited to the same menu of covered abortions, but states have the right to decide to add coverage for medically necessary abortions, and seventeen states have done so. It is unclear whether this practice could continue under the Stupak amendment.

Medically required abortions are currently covered in most employer-provided health insurance plans. Whether this would still be the case in Stupak's world is unclear, but there would certainly be some pressure towards making all policies eligible for the insurance exchange and that could well mean that medically necessary abortions would no longer be included.

The research papers are well worth reading through if you don't mind getting ever more worried. I did, but mostly I got very angry. The anti-choicers have created laws which refuse to cover abortions even when this results in great pain and suffering of the pregnant woman, as long as she doesn't drop dead right there and then. And note how carefully risk to life is defined as only coming from physical health problems. Never mind what mental health problems a woman might suffer from, birth she must give. All this is so that the sluts can't get away with "convenience abortions." That's how the anti-choicers view women.

So thanks, Stupak, for making me face that fact about you and your brethren (mostly brethren).
Link to the Kaiser paper via Rheality Check.