Abortion “Neutrality” in Health Care Reform: Unfair and Unjust

Debra Haffner

A public health option without abortion coverage does not sound like neutrality to me -- it sounds like selling out women for political expediency, again.

This post first appeared on the Sexuality and Religion blog.

I have found the reports of the town halls about health care reform
appalling. I simply do not understand how so many people believe the
lies and distortions — but even more, I don’t understand how people
don’t believe that everyone deserves health care.

And that health care should cover all medical services.

again, abortion is taking center stage as a key area of public debate.
I was called yesterday by a DC colleague and told that the faith
community was getting behind "abortion neutrality" in health care

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What would that mean? It would mean the public option
would not include abortion services and that private options need not
include reproductive health care. Translation: poor and low income
women would have no coverage for abortion services. Other women, who
opt for the public option because they work for a small business, are
self employed, or unemployed, would have no coverage.

This doesn’t seem like "neutrality" to me. It sounds like selling out women again for political expediency.

That’s why I added my name to this letter signed by diverse religious leaders, raising our voices to the inclusion of reproductive health care services in health care reform. I’ve reprinted it below.

desperately believe we need health care for everyone. But, I implore
the White House and the Democrats in Congress not to abandon their
commitments to choice to do it.

Letter from National Religious Leaders to Members of Congress Urging Access to Abortion in Health Care Reform August 13, 2009

Dear Members of Congress,

religious leaders, we support public policies that are just and
compassionate and prioritize the needs of those who are poor and
marginalized in our society. Therefore we are opposed to attempts –
many made in the name of religion and morality – to exclude abortion
services from health care reform.

our reasons for supporting the inclusion of abortion services in health
care are diverse, they are grounded in the teachings of our faith
traditions and our commitment to social justice. The majority of faith
groups in America have affirmed that abortion is a decision of
conscience that should be safeguarded by government. Further, these
faith traditions affirm that health care services, including abortion,
must be available to all, regardless of income.

coverage for abortion is eliminated from health care reform, the poor
and communities of color will bear the consequences. Already, a
low-income woman is four times as likely to have an unintended
pregnancy and five times as likely to have an unintended birth as her
higher income counterpart. Lack of access to abortion services
perpetuates inequality and compromises the future of women, their
families and their communities. In this religiously pluralistic nation,
our health care system should be inclusive and respectful of diverse
religious beliefs and decisions regarding childbearing. One in three
American women has an abortion by age 45, making it one of the most
common medical procedures in the nation. Ignoring this truth belies the
rhetoric of comprehensive, accessible health care.

health care system that serves all persons with dignity and equality
will include comprehensive reproductive health services. We call on
Congress to preserve the current standard of reproductive health care
and ensure that millions of uninsured and underinsured women will have access to these services. Thank you for your consideration.

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