Why is Preventative Medicine Only Wrong When Abortion is the Subject?

A great article by Caperton on Feministe raises the oft controversial subject (among abortion rights activists, that is) about whether discussing abortion as a medical procedure that should be rare is appropriate. Caperton takes the position that, as is the case for angioplasty, preventative medicine should make the demand for abortion lower. Caperton argues, and I agree:

“So yes, we should want abortion to be rare–not because there’s anything wrong with it as a procedure, or because it’s horrific or universally traumatizing, but because we’d generally rather not have to pay money and undergo minimally invasive medical procedures if we can avoid them. Um, hi.”

Yeah, um, hello. Medical intervention should be a rarer occurrence. Americans have come to rely too much on getting a pill or a simple operation to cure all the ills they did themselves over the course of their lives. Preventable, medical intervention costs the U.S. billions of dollars every year. Effective preventative medicine saves money and lightens burden on our health care system.

The fact that abortion is the topic of this particular preventative medicine debate doesn’t change the math. Tiptoeing around abortion and the desire to reduce the number of abortions needed due to fear of negative publicity has more of a negative impact that addressing abortion as you would address any other preventable medical procedure. The simple fact is, the majority of unwanted pregnancy is preventable. If we change the way our society views a woman’s right to control her reproductive life and her general health, we benefit her, her children and our society economically and socially.

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What Does the GOP Know About Rape?

For a party that insists discussions about social issues (namely, abortion) are a distraction, Republicans spend an awful lot of time legislating, talking about, and litigating against abortion access. It would seem that were the GOP actually unconcerned with the abortion issue and more focused on creating jobs and boosting the American economy, the unemployment rate would be well below 8 percent and the economy would have seen substantial growth above 2 percent. But alas, as evidenced by the introduction of over 1,100 reproductive health and abortion-restriction bills in federal and state level the 2011 legislative session nationwide, the GOP and their Tea Party progeny are well focused on usurping control over women’s private parts.

Abortion is a polarizing issue in the United States. A majority of Americans believe a woman should be able to control her own fertility, including having the choice whether to continue a pregnancy. Most americans agree that abortion should be allowed for victims of rape or incest, or when a woman’s health or life is at risk. But the GOP platform committee approved a party platform this week that supports banning abortion altogether without any exception for the life or health of the woman or for cases of rape or incest. The Republican National Committee will vote on this platform in full next week. The platform, including it’s careless abortion position, is likely to be approved in stride.

This week, one especially ignorant and dishonest republican, Senator Todd Akin, claimed that women cannot get pregnant from rape saying, “If it is a legitimate rape, the female body has ways of shutting that whole thing down.” (I guess he’ll say anything to score points with pro-life extremists. Or maybe he is just THAT ignorant.) I don’t believe I can pull a more bullshit claim out of the ether than that.

Akin and his buddies including Paul Ryan claim that exceptions to abortion bans for women’s health, or rape and incest victims are a “red herring.” Their meaning – “exceptions to abortion bans for rape are unnecessary because women who were REALLY raped cant get pregnant”. The GOP audacity to categorize rape according to the physical state of the victim is absolutely dispicable and illustrates just how much contempt for women’s autonomy the Republican party harbors.

The statistical occurence of pregnancy among rape victims has actually been studied. According to a study presented at The South Atlantic Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology (Am J Obstet Gynecol 1996;175:320-5), the national rape-related pregnancy rate is 5.0 percent per rape. Holmes, et al also concluded that rape-related pregnancy occurs with significant frequency – to the tune of 32,101 pregnancies resulting from rape each year – and is closely linked with family and domestic violence.

But the GOP doesn’t believe “legitimate” rape victims actually become pregnant.

The real GOP policy is to force impregnated rape victims to sacrifice their bodies and their lives because a fetus is more important than any woman’s sanity, health or life.

The real red herring here is that the GOP is unlikely to confirm any woman’s rape as “legitimate” enough to sanction the woman’s choice to terminate her pregnancy. Apparentlyin GOP-land, a woman could not have possibly been raped except if she lay on her death bed after the attack. So those of us who were raped by our abusive husbands – not really raped. Those of use who were raped after we passed out from drinking – not really raped. Those of us who were slipped a date rape drug – not really raped. Those of us who stopped fighting because our attacker had big fists and a knife and we didn’t want to die – not really raped.

So next time, struggle a bit more so you have some STAB WOUNDS to prove your rape was LEGITIMATE! And since you can’t get pregnant from “legitimate” or “forcible” rape, if you do turn up preggo you must just be some kind of masochist.

I find it insane

The worst, I think, is people who insist that they are not sexists, they are not misogynists, and then proceed to denigrate to women in general.

I find it insane how quickly a conversation about abortion can turn into a misogynistic rant. The things people say about women sometimes astound me! I seriously think some people would rather see a woman dead than provide an abortion that would save her life, let alone protect the woman’s health.

The worst, I think, is people who insist that they are not sexists, they are not misogynists, and then proceed to denigrate to women in general. A recent conversation with a “pro-life” friend and his buddy turned sharply south when the friend intimated that only lazy and irresponsible women have abortions. I  pointed out that if abortion became illegal again, women would once again start dying unnecessarily from back-alley abortions, that abortion doesn’t just go away when it is illegal, and that illegal abortion presented a massive public health problem in cities all over the country – which was the primary reason for liberalization of the short-lived laws prohibiting abortion by a third of the United States starting with Colorado in 1967 even before Roe v. Wade was decided.*

For their part, this guy his buddy tried to convince me that abortion is never necessary to protect women’s health, abortion doesn’t save lives, women shouldn’t “open up ya legs”, women are irresponsible, women let men take the blame, women instigate and trap men into sex, women are dumb, women are selfish, women don’t need to enjoy a “frivolous and meaningless” sex life, a woman who has an abortion is a “hoe”, and finally, that I personally am ignorant and immature.

Way to go pro-life guys. You sure do make your comrades proud.

 

*Okay, I didn’t give them the history lesson. But I did point out the public health issues.

PA House Bill 2405 Won’t Reduce Abortions

In a transparent attempt to garner political clout among far-right conservatives, Representative Daryl Metcalfe has introduced House Bill 2405 in the Pennsylvania Assembly. HB 2405, if passed, would exclude Planned Parenthood and similar health care providers from eligibility for Title X reimbursement if they are associated with providers that offer abortion services – all despite the fact that by law no Title X funds may be used in programs that offer abortion as a method of family planning.

In Metcalfe’s own words:

“Regardless of their position on abortion, Pennsylvania taxpayers must no longer be forced to subsidize the loss of innocent lives… In reality, women in Pennsylvania will be healthier and the children safer when we permanently defund Planned Parenthood and its anti-family agenda.”

Wow. What. A. Liar.

Rather than subsiding abortion, as Metcalfe asserts, Title X funding is used at Planned Parenthood to prevent unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. Defunding Planned Parenthood would NOT prevent abortions, as Planned Parenthood’s Title X clinics are financially independent business entities separate from the advocacy organization and the organization that provides abortions.

Since Title X funding is never used to fund abortion, defunding comprehensive reproductive health care providers would only serve to increase the number of unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases in Pennsylvania by reducing access to qualified providers. Contrary to Metcalfe’s words, HB 2405 will not result in healthier or safer Pennsylvanians. Reducing access to health care is not a pro-women or a pro-family agenda. House Bill 2405 would lead to fewer health care options, fewer health care services provided*, increased transmission of sexually transmitted infections, higher incidence of unplanned pregnancy, prenatal anomalies and preterm births*, and more abortions.

Metcalfe’s bill is not a pro-life policy. It is a scourge.

*due to supply of Title X providers not keeping pace with demand for Title X services

PA House Bill 2405 Empowers Poverty

Having the ability to prevent additional pregnancies gives women better opportunity to work themselves and their families out of the hole of poverty.

Poverty begets poverty. Poverty is one of the hardest economic situations to escape from in the United States. As the income gap widens and Americans become poorer and weaker, poverty, for some, becomes an cyclic chasm from which escape can seem impossible.

Enter Title X.

One of the benefits of the Title X program is that it gives women and men an opportunity to halt the cycle of poverty. As a demographic, being a single woman with children puts one into one of the largest and poorest faring economic subgroups in the nation. Having the ability to prevent additional pregnancies gives women better opportunity to work themselves and their families out of the hole of poverty.

Birth control access can have a profound effect on the welfare of a family. When a woman is not perpetually pregnant, she has better opportunity to hold down a steady job (or even two or three) and even go to school. With less mouths to feed, more of the family income can be used toward purchasing fuel, clothes and medical care for children. Especially for single mothers, birth control access can mean the difference between a lifetime on welfare and earning a living wage for ones family.

Politicians and pundits like to play the “birth control is a license to have sex” card. To them I say, what about to the women who don’t have a real choice not to have sex? I have listened to stories from women living with abuse who really didn’t have a choice – it was submit or get beat up. How is a woman in that situation supposed to claw herself out of a life of poverty and abuse if she is always pregnant and, thus, has no job and no money? For a woman in that situation, control over her own body means safety and freedom.

Politicians in Pennsylvania know that Title X funds cannot be used for abortion care. They also know that the restrictions on Title X funding bar the state from discriminating against qualified health care providers – meaning Pennsylvania would lose all of the Title X funding if House Bill 2405 were enforced.

A vote for HB 2405 is a vote against every woman struggling to pick herself up out of poverty. A vote for HB 2405 is a vote to empower poverty. What will these politicians choose for Pennsylvania women? Poverty or Opportunity?

 

*Edited to clarify restrictions on Title X funds.

PA House Bill 2405 Represses Consumer Choice

Unshackling the market and promoting free market enterprise is one of the priorities of the Republican Party – except when it comes to women’s health. If you are a reproductive health care provider that also performs or even refers patients to another health care provider that performs abortion services in Pennsylvania today, you have to worry about your ability to continue offering preventative reproductive health care services to your patients. If you are a comprehensive reproductive health care provider, you won’t even have the chance to compete equally with health care clinics whose services are limited only to those reproductive health care services that are acceptable to the Catholic church (which ain’t much). That is because Rep. Daryl Metcalfe has introduced House Bill 2405 in the Pennsylvania Assembly which, if passed, would ban the commonwealth from allocating Title X funds to any health care organization that performs or is even associated with another organization that performs abortions for reasons other than rape, incest or a woman’s imminent death.

The sad fact of the matter is that such a move would alienate every Pennsylvanian who relies on Title X funds to fill the gaps in their health care. Other states, such as Indiana and Texas, have incurred burdensome legal fees at the expense of their citizens for defunding Planned Parenthood and similar organizations. And in contrast to the Republican mantra of “small government,” defunding comprehensive reproductive health providers does nothing to limit the power of the government. On the contrary, HB 2405 expands the reach of the PA government beyond the shallows of “provider qualification based on nondiscrimination” into the deep “government injection of religious dogma into law” sea. In essence, House Bill 2405 seeks to strip away religious freedom and provider choice from Pennsylvania citizens, thus limiting our health care options to the theological restrictions of the Catholics in the Pennsylvania government.

If that’s not immoral, I don’t know what is.

PA House Bill 2405 would Alienate the Poor

If Governor Corbett signs HB 2405, thousands of Pennsylvanians will be unable to access any health care at all.

Pennsylvania legislators have an impossibly simple choice to make: table or vote down House Bill 2405 and maintain the Title X funding that ensures low income Pennsylvanians continue to receive reproductive health care, or pass HB 2405 thus alienating over 125,000 poorer Pennsylvanians from the basic health care they need to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections, prevent unplanned pregnancy, and ensure early detection of cervical and breast cancer. It may seem to you and me like there is only one logical choice. But I am not sure these politicians “get” it.

For many low-income Pennsylvanians, a Title X clinic represents the only source of health care they’ve got. For students or someone working for low wage with or without insurance, managing to pay for doctor’s visits, tests and birth control can be an enormous financial burden. Add children into that equation, and often the health care needs of the parent or parents is utterly trumped.

If Governor Corbett signs HB 2405, thousands of Pennsylvanians will be unable to access any health care at all. For those who rely on Title X funding for care, HB 2405 means loss. Rep. Metcalfe and his condescending cronies win when the poor lose. If that is not morally wrong, I don’t know what is.