Abortion debate, health care reformUnder health care reform proposals, will abortions be paid for by health insurance premiums or tax dollars?
By: Betsy Hart, The Dickinson Press
Under health care reform proposals, will abortions be paid for by health insurance premiums or tax dollars?
That endgame isn’t known yet. The betting looks good that it will.
How ironic that such a push in Washington comes at a time when Americans’ views on abortion are shifting, and significantly, in the anti-abortion direction. Surprised?
The Gallup organization recently released a poll showing that 51 percent of Americans now consider themselves “pro-life.” This is the first time in its history of polling on the issue that the majority of respondents claimed that label.
And a Pew Research Center poll recently found that, in the past year that the percentage of Americans in favor of making abortion illegal in all or most cases increased 4 percentage points, from 41 percent to 45 percent. During the same time, the percentage of Americans in favor of making abortion legal in all or most cases declined by 7 percentage points, from 54 percent to 47 percent, the poll found.
Further, 41 percent favor making abortions more difficult to obtain, a 6 percent increase since 2007. This is the highest level of support for abortion restrictions since Pew began polling on the issue in 1987.
These are huge shifts.
Put the health-care debate aside. I believe these numbers are hopeful because from almost any angle, the abortion-rights stance is so much “easier.” For starters, it’s far more politically correct. It requires no personal sacrifice.
In contrast the anti-abortion position is, by definition, selfless. I’m not just talking about choosing the “easy” answer of abortion over the sacrifice of motherhood or giving a baby up for adoption. And yes, I fully get that, for many women, undergoing an abortion is in the end understandably traumatic.
I also find it so telling that I’ve not heard of an abortion provider that gives away services, and I don’t know of an anti-abortion crisis pregnancy center that charges for theirs.
In any event, while I often bemoan today’s “all about me” culture, I think it is encouraging that our culture is moving toward a more selfless orientation on at least this issue.
Why is this happening? Surely technology is one key. Earlier and more exact sonograms show parents a human form only weeks after conception. Also, for a number of reasons, more and more couples are finding themselves infertile. The emotional devastation of not being able to have a baby is typically unlike a longing for anything else, and so there are those who will pay dearly or go deeply into debt to conceive a child. To help answer the growing need, there is now even a new Food and Drug Administration-approved home kit, Conceivex Conception Kit, which just recently came onto the market.
In any event, today’s more widely experienced sensibility of the loss that is infertility has to play into the wider sensibility of the value of life.
Politics surely plays a role in the shift too.
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, a “pro-life” political action committee, told me: “As the president seeks to advance policies which weave abortion into the fabric of our lives, the nation moves in an equal and opposite direction. He has made the formerly ambivalent become thoughtful on the issue.”
If so, it looks like Americans are going to get a chance to become very thoughtful on the issue in the days ahead. When it comes to the abortion and health-care push from abortion-rights advocates, it may be a case of ultimately being sorry to get what they asked for.
— Hart hosts the “It Takes a Parent” radio show on WYLL-AM 1160 in Chicago. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.