Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Price of Medical Care When The Church Lobbies

We are on the verge of passing one of the most important pieces of legislation in our time. Not since Medicare has any bill affected more people and their well being than health care reform. But the House, in passing the first round, added what has become known as the Stupak Amendment, supposedly following up on the Hyde law forbidding public funding for abortion. This is a disgrace, and could become a tragedy in the making.

Abortion is a legal medical procedure and as such women should not be denied health care coverage for it. An abortion may be medically recommended if a pregnant woman is diagnosed with cancer, or becomes ill only to have it discovered that the fetus has been severely compromised. Whatever the medical indications may be for an abortion, careless contraception is rarely one of them.

And as with any other medical procedure, it is none of our business whether a woman undergoes the procedure or why. Such scrutiny is not seemly outside the medical setting. Discussion of medical care and procedures must remain between doctor and patient.

But if health care coverage is not provided for abortion, there will unquestionably be resultant deaths.

Catholic bishops, among others, have been lobbying Congress to ban public funding for abortions, and have now decided to go even further and bar women from purchasing insurance riders with their own money to cover abortion. I wonder whether these bishops are still getting tax breaks, despite their heavy lobbying.

The fact is that it is not right to deny coverage for any legal medical procedure and this cannot be an exception. Any excuse for not covering abortion can only be found on religious grounds and there we have the problem. And the solution. Let's get clarity about what is the right thing here: doing the right thing is keeping religion out of our politics. Women cannot continue to be victims. We all suffer the consequences.

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