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Abortion Affects Everyone When It Comes To The Health Care Debate

Recently, abortion has been on my mind. I’m willing to bet that I’m not the only one—as our Congress debates its way through pages upon pages of HR 3962, Affordable Health Care for America Act, also known simply as the Health Care Reform bill, it seems as though abortion is one of those issues that has made its way to the center of the debate. Regardless of your personal beliefs (full disclosure: I am pro-choice) the fact is that since the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, abortion is legal in America. We are currently facing the possibility that new legislation may infringe on that, and it’s really important to understand what is going on and what is at stake so we can all make informed decisions about where we stand. Back in September, HC’s Cassie Kreitner gave you a rundown of the bill in Healthcare Reform 101. Think of this as the honors seminar to go along with that 101 class—today, we’re focusing on abortion.

The Stupak Amendment in the House

In a historical moment on November 7, 2009, the House of Representatives passed a health care reform bill that included a Public Option, by a vote of 220-215. Attached to that bill, however, was an amendment that directly infringes on a woman’s ability to get an abortion. Representative Bart Stupak, a Democrat from Michigan, introduced the amendment, and it’s one that prohibits coverage for abortions, even for women who do not receive federal subsidy. This means that except in the case of very limited circumstances (including rape and incest), if you are receiving any federal funds, you are unable to use your own personal funds to purchase an insurance package that would cover abortion. Stupak has specifically stated that he’d rather kill the bill than pass it without his specific language barring abortion.

The Nelson Compromise in the Senate

Senator Ben Nelson, a Democrat from Nebraska, was the final vote needed for the Senate to pass a 60-40 win for their version of the health care bill. As such, he was a pretty important vote. Nelson made it clear that he wasn’t going to vote yes for the bill until some provisions were made that denied women abortions. Sound familiar? Though the language used in the Senate’s version of the bill is “a softening of the House language,” it is by no means on the opposing side of the debate. Under the Nelson compromise, every single person who subscribes to an insurance plan that does include funding for abortion will have to write two separate checks for their insurance every month: one for abortion care and one for everything else. Though this language does allow women to choose a Public Option that will fund abortions, it still makes abortion seem like something out of the ordinary—something that is not inclusive with all other healthcare options—and depending on where you stand that could be a positive or a negative.

What This Means For You

According to Planned Parenthood, 1 in 3 women will have an abortion by the time she is 45 years old. That means that even if abortion isn’t something you’ll have to worry about during your four years at university, or hopefully ever, you could need insurance coverage later on in life. Planned Parenthood reports that the cost for a first-trimester abortion performed at a health center is usually between $350 and $900.

What Will Happen Next?

Right now, it’s unclear what any of this legal jargon could mean for us. We’re currently looking at two very different versions of the same bill, and it’s unclear what kinds of compromises will be made as Congress attempts to combine the two into something that could ultimately be signed by President Obama. Apparently, congressional leaders would like to give Obama a finalized version of the bill before his State of the Union, so we should be getting some answers very soon. Whether those answers will yield celebration or outrage is yet to be seen. Naturally, reactions will vary depending which side of the debate you support when it comes to abortion.

What do you think? Sound off in the Comments section below!

Sources:

http://nwlc.org/pdf/StupakAmendmentFactsheet.pdf

http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h111-3962

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/07/us/politics/07stupak.html?pagewanted=1&hp

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/19/AR200912… http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2009/12/one-premium-two-checks-how-ab…

http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/abortion-4260.htm

http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/abortion/in-clinic-aborti…

http://jezebel.com/5442543/cadillac-plans–playing-politics-the-11th-hou…

Vanessa Friedman is a senior at New York University, majoring in English and minoring in Creative Writing. As an outspoken feminist, she probably should have majored in Gender Studies, but she tries to make up for this error by reading voraciously about the subject and talking incessantly about it to anyone who will listen. She is not as annoying as this makes her sound—hopefully. She has interned at CosmoGirl and Time Out New York Kids and was published in both magazines. The young adult/kids publications are well suited for her, as when she’s not reading, writing, or deconstructing our patriarchal society, she is a professional babysitter extraordinaire. It is also important to know that Vanessa is firmly Team Gaga.
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