High Risk Insurance Pools, or Yet Another Way to Screw Over Women


So we come to another battle over abortion in health care, only this time, the Obama administration caved even before anti-choicers brought out their pitchforks.

(Cross-posted from Verities and Vagaries)

Oh, what’s that you say?  You say health care reform might actually still allow some women who need it to access a legal medical procedure AND have it covered in their health insurance?  Lordy, no, we Democrats won’t stand for THAT.

So we come to another battle over abortion in health care, only this time, the Obama administration caved even before anti-choicers brought out their pitchforks.  Here’s the background: the federally-funded Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plans (or PCIPs) were set up to provide coverage for people whose pre-existing conditions prevent them from obtaining insurance through private carriers.  This is an interim measure until states get their insurance exchanges going in 2014; the plans vary from state to state but the idea is that premiums will be comparable to those in private plans.

Several states, including New Mexico, had indicated that they planned to include abortion coverage in these high risk insurance pools, and so, anticipating the inevitable uproar (federal funds!  baby killing!  federal funds!), the Department of Health and Human Services announced that the state-run plans will not include coverage for abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or where the woman’s life is in danger.  Doesn’t matter if states wanted to use state funds or patients’ money for the coverage– regardless of the funding source, no abortion coverage.

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Making this especially problematic, it’s women with pre-existing conditions who are more likely to need the more complicated, and thus expensive abortions (ie, who need their abortions covered by insurance)– and whose health is most likely to be threatened by pregnancy even if their lives aren’t at risk.  Further, this was a voluntary choice on the part of the administration: nothing in the health care reform law required this ban.  Once again, the White House is making it abundantly clear that abortion is not a fight they want–or are willing– to have.  Never mind the women who voted for Obama believing, based on his strong statements to this effect, that he would stand up for their reproductive rights.

This has been an ongoing theme since Obama took office.  Pro-choicers are told to shut up and wait our turn, because otherwise we’ll wreck things for the Democratic Party.  Guys?  That ship has sailed.  The Dems are in trouble this November, and it is SO not the fault of abortion rights activists.

Every time we get shushed and our concerns get dismissed, it creates more of a precedent that this is how abortion issues will be handled from now on.  Every time, it shows the anti’s that they can win, which emboldens them to keep asking for more and more and more.  This happened with the broader health care debate, and with the choice of Elena Kagan over Diane Wood, and now this, and why the hell should I believe that if I stay quiet this time, eventually someone will stand up for my right to choose?

I get that Things Would Be Worse with Republicans in control.  I do.  I don’t want them in charge.  But neither do I want to keep putting my hopes in a party that dismisses my reproductive rights as expendable, something to trade away–no, give away, in order to avoid a fight.

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