13% versus 96% -- that is what is at stake over the Stupak Amendment. The current health care legislation that was passed in the House, H.R. 3962, extends affordable health care to 96% of Americans and yet once again in this country it comes down to abortion. A fire destroyed Rome. A wedge issue will destroy the United States. Only 13% of last year's abortions were covered by private insurance, and only a fraction of those women would be affected by the Stupak Amendment. Yet somehow the amendment has become a health care controversy.
The Stupak Amendment requires women to purchase a separate rider to their federally subsidized insurance to cover an abortion that is not due to rape, incest or medical risk. Like the Hyde Amendment that has been in effect since 1976, the Stupak Amendment would prohibit federal dollars, tax payer money, from paying for abortions. Under the current Hyde Amendment, poor women on Medicare are prohibited from using the federal health insurance to pay for an abortion. So for 33 years poor women have had to go out of pocket, choose between paying the rent or getting an abortion. Now, essentially, the Stupak Amendment would require all women who would receive federally subsidized health insurance to be treated like poor women, which seems to really offend some of us.
There is no doubt in my mind personally that women should have the right to do with our bodies as we see fit, including, deciding whether we want to grow a baby in it. I have said for years if men could have babies, abortion would not be an issue. I think most women would have a hard time imagining some guy they had a brief relationship with conceding to their demand to carry a child for ten months and then go through labor? I mean, let's be real, it's hard enough to get some guys to return a phone call. With statistics as high as 22% of American children are raised by single moms, it seems abortion is more an issue of a woman having the power to terminate a pregnancy without the approval or consent of the man who impregnated her, rather than any heartfelt commitment of a father to a would-be child. It is for these reasons I feel very strongly that men need to keep their mouths shut on the issue of abortion, including Rep. Stupak.
Yet and still, the debate over abortion has not only transformed legislation, it has over time changed women's attitudes on both sides. While each individual has dominion over their reproductive organs according to the law, there is a moral question we feel the need to keep asking. At this point the debate has become a national compulsion with every order of business in this country coming down to abortion (and sometimes gay rights).
My guess is abortion is on no woman's list of life's happiest moments. I have never heard a woman speak of their abortion proudly or with fond memory. Instead, I have heard regret to have been in the circumstance and relief. Most women I know who have had an abortion became diligent after the fact about birth control and many have gone on to become incredible mothers. For those of us who have conviction of a woman's right to choose, we understand the compassion for children our pro-life sisters express. We just think that compassion should go to the countless number of children that exist in the world today not those that could possibly be. One need only open your eyes and ears to understand children all over the world suffer in brutality and desperation for no other reason than they are born into poverty. And you don't have to look to the developing world to find these children. Just look in the juvenile corrections system or Childrens' Services right here in the United States and you will find an endless supply of children who are in need of compassion. Yet and still, it is only fair to consider a few points of pro-life American women.
In Britain where abortion is covered by the National Health Service, repeat abortions continue to rise. I think most of us can agree abortion is not a desirable form of birth control. At this point in medical science you can take a pill, get a shot, get a sponge, a disc, a suppository. It would not be surprising if soon, contraception will come in the form of a fruity drink-- I recommend cosmo flavor. And with the advent of HIV/AIDS safe sex has become common practice, compared to that of previous generations. So it's easy for American women to avoid getting pregnant if you don't want to get pregnant, which is why the rate of abortion in the United States has been in long-term decline since 1974 and reached its lowest rate in 2008, with even lower numbers expected ahead.
Late term abortions are another point of contention exploited by politicians and evangelicals to distract the American public. Meanwhile, 9 out of 10 abortions are performed in the first eight weeks or less. Meaning, only one out of ten abortions are late term. And one can only assume many of those abortions are due to medical risk, rape or incest. Sadly, some women don't discover they are pregnant or are in denial or simply can't get the $600 or so together to pay for their abortion until they are well into their pregnancy. A remedy to this might be more of us pro-choice supporters regularly donating money to clinics like Planned Parenthood to provide free contraception, pregnancy tests, and affordable early term abortions.
For the sake of our country, we can hope that some day abortion will become a non-issue, stripped of the potency to divide us from our own best interest as a nation. We can dream that someday people will stop choosing candidates with no ideas for our future but one strong opinion on abortion. Perhaps with H.R. 3962 we have an opportunity to heal ourselves of this abulia by not allowing a fraction of the 13% of abortions that are covered by private insurance to keep us from coming out of the Dark Ages and passing H.R. 3962 for a national health care system. And until it passes in the Senate, we should not allow the small number of women who would not be covered under Stupak to blind us to the fact that for the first time in our history the U.S. House of Representatives has passed a comprehensive health care plan for the United States -- a plan that will cover 96% of Americans. That is a victory. That is a victory for women in the form of pap smears, mammograms, early screenings for breast and ovarian cancer, early detection of cysts and tumors, more gynecological exams for young women so we can prevent Chlamydia and other sexually transmitted diseases from causing infertility amongst young women. It means more women can get contraception and prenatal care. It means more women can go to the doctor and get checkups and treatment for whatever ails them. The passing of H.R. 3962 in the House is a victory for women and all women need to recognize that. Abortion is a woman's issue not easily resolved but for today let's celebrate -- for we are united in a victory for women, and for 96% of Americans.
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