Abortion’s at its lowest level since 1973 (and everyone wants credit for that), but Republicans still want to end insurance coverage of abortion

I’m not going to write a lot about this, because while I know a few people who have had abortions, I’m (a) not a woman and (b) not tremendously well-informed on every nuance of the idea, so I feel like my views don’t really represent much in this context. (FWIW, I’m pro-choice, but I’d classify myself as that mostly because I feel like bringing a baby into the world when the parents aren’t ready to provide for it is a terrible thing, and also because I don’t really think a large-level institution should be able to tell an individual woman “Do this with your body.” But I digress.) Currently, abortion’s at its lowest rate in 40 years — in 1990, it was 27.4 per 1,000 women and now it’s a little under 17 — and everyone wants credit for the drop, from contraception people to sex education people to Republicans who are trying to limit access to the procedure to the people behind the movie Juno to anyone else. We don’t really know the actual reason, and in reality, it wouldn’t be singular anyway — it would be a complex matrix of different reasons in different situations, which is often the case with issues that people try to put neatly into a box. (That doesn’t actually work.)

Check out this map, though:


That’s a look at states that (a) have or (b) have considered banning private insurance coverage of abortion. First thing that pops out: whenever a coastal person assumes the middle of the country is back-water-ish, this map does not help the Midwest’s/Plains case. Straight down the center of America, states have banned or are considering banning private insurance coverage of abortion. Here’s the full article, which goes into a lot of excellent detail, but this part is probably the most troubling:

Very few of the abortion insurance bans proposed in the past three years contained exceptions for women whose pregnancies endangered their health. “That is when insurance is most essential,” says Gretchen Borchelt, the state reproductive health policy director for the National Women’s Law Center. Under those conditions, she adds, “abortion can be prohibitively expensive. Those issues often come up late in the pregnancy, and may require a more intensive hospital setting.” In eight of the nine states that have already banned private coverage—every one except for Utah—there are no exceptions for women who have become pregnant through rape or incest.

The ban Republicans pushed in Mississippi last year would have forbidden private insurers from covering abortions in any situation—even if a pregnancy threatened a mother’s life. In West Virginia, the ban introduced to the Senate only makes an exception for life-threatening situations. The bill that Ohio will consider this year, which was introduced in November,makes an exception for women suffering ectopic pregnancies, but not other life- or health-threatening conditions. State Rep. John Becker, the bill’s Republican sponsor, says the bill is “a starting point for discussion,” and that he is open to adding more exceptions.

So … put a ban in place, but there’s no real way for a woman to pay for the abortion, even if the pregnancy is threatening her health? That seems kind of ludicrous, no? Make a woman sicker and/or financially wreck a family for a bit simply to make sure it’s harder to abort a child? Some of my friends used to use the war on women idea as a joking response to anything (like a high bar tab), but this is kind of legitimately a war on women.

If you’re interested in the finance levels we’re talking about here:

The millions of women who now face having to pay for abortions out of pocket will find the procedures don’t come cheap. A May 2013 study from the Guttmacher Institute found that for women whose abortions weren’t fully covered by their insurance, an abortion cost an average of $485. Half of the women who were unable to rely on insurance to pay for their abortions—either because they didn’t have it or it didn’t cover abortions—ultimately found it difficult to pay. Large numbers of those women put off paying their rent or utilities or cut back on buying food in order to afford the procedure.

I actually would have assumed an abortion costs more than that, but still, $485 on $18/hour is a lot of money — and $485 on near minimum wage basically means you better be comfortable with mac and cheese and ramen for a long time.

I understand the idea that an abortion is a murder, even if we haven’t conclusively proven when a soul/consciousness takes form, but … I wish legislators would sometimes realize that societal problems aren’t silos. All the pieces actually fit together, so if you promote this idea over here, it has impacts on these four quality-of-life measures over there. You can’t just focus on legislation limiting abortion because if the abortion needs to happen, it will still happen, and the context therein is going to shift other aspects of that family’s life — and thus that community. Law-making needs to be a bit more dynamic and a bit less partisan, or so it seems.

Ted Bauer

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