[Today's guest post by Sarah Terzo is part of our paid blogging program. Sarah is a pro-life atheist, a frequent contributor to Live Action News, a board member of the Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians, and the force behind ClinicQuotes.com.]
For a long time, the pro-life movement has been calling for the defunding of Planned Parenthood. This is a worthy aim. Planned Parenthood is the largest provider of abortions in the United States. They have been caught lying to women about fetal development and offering to protect sex traffickers at the expense of their underage victims. An undercover investigation of Planned Parenthood in six different states showed Planned Parenthood workers agreeing to cover up statutory rape and send underage victims back to their abusers. And that doesn’t even touch upon the lengthy investigation into Planned Parenthood’s selling of fetal organs and body parts.
But in the long-term battle to protect the lives of preborn babies and vulnerable disabled children and adults, care must be taken not to make one step forward and ten steps back.
The health care bill currently being considered in the Senate, the Better Care Reconciliation Act, does defund Planned Parenthood for one year. But other aspects of the bill, as it stands now, can have a terrible impact on the issues of abortion and euthanasia.
One part of the Affordable Healthcare Act that the new bill would repeal is the mandate that insurance plans cover birth and maternity care. According to CNN, the average cost of childbirth is $30,000. A cesarean section raises the bill to $50,000.
The changes in the law will mean that at least 22 million fewer people will have health insurance coverage, including maternity coverage. Millions more, who will keep their coverage in other areas, will lose maternity coverage as well.
According to statistics gathered by the Alan Guttmacher Institute (which supports abortion), 73% of women who have abortions say that they aborted because they could not afford a child. Pro-lifers have often said that if a woman cannot afford to raise a child, she can place the baby for adoption. But as we have seen, birth without insurance is very costly. Poor women, including many single mothers, may be faced with a “choice” between spending $30,000 on a birth (if everything goes right) or $400 on an abortion. If the adoptive parents are unable to cover that cost, the pressure this would bring to bear on women would be enormous. There is no doubt that more women would be pressured to “choose” abortion.
Pro-lifers have also spoken out, and rightly so, against euthanasia. Those most vulnerable to euthanasia are the disabled and the elderly.
Over 6.2 million disabled people rely on Medicaid to provide health care. The Better Care Reconciliation Act, as currently drafted, will cut Medicaid by billions of dollars. This will force state insurance to cover fewer services. There have been multiple examples of insurance companies refusing to cover chemotherapy for cancer patients, but offering to cover pills for assisted suicide. With so much pressure to cut costs for disabled and chronically ill Americans, this will only increase.
Currently, many elderly men and women in nursing homes are being paid for by Medicaid. Medicare only covers skilled nursing care for 100 days. After that, the only option for a great many elderly people is Medicaid, which pays for long-term stays in nursing homes. This will be cut. What happens when elderly people cannot live on their own, have no family to take care of them, and have no way to pay for nursing home care? Such individuals would be at very great risk for both voluntary and involuntary euthanasia.
And, as I’ve said, 22 million fewer people will have health insurance if the Better Care Reconciliation Act is passed.
I would like to share this story from a friend on facebook:
My sister ... died on March 23, 2008 following a brainstem stroke, locked-in syndrome, and no hospital or rehab facility wanting to touch her because she was uninsured (she had a new job and was 30 days away from qualifying for benefits). Her medical costs for 1 week, post-stroke, were 1.2 million dollars so the doctors said sorry, but—because she is 100 percent physically paralyzed, yet 100 percent mentally alert and able to communicate by blinking her eyes—we must videotape her blinking in agreement to our request to terminate life support since she lacks coverage for alternative treatment. And to be sure, they said, we'll videotape her doing this 3 times over as many days just to cover our butts. The life support was terminated on Good Friday but unlike Lifetime movie depictions, death did not come swiftly or without pain. Patricia Ann Brown Medley, age 43, lingered until 11:07 p.m. on Easter Sunday, at which time her soul left the earth where a handful of fellow inhabitants decided she wasn't worth saving. Sleep well tonight if you find this acceptable.Did Ann Brown Medley have a right to life?
Incidents like this will become more and more common if the health care bill is passed without serious revision.
Adding to the number of suicides (assisted or not) will be some of the millions of mentally ill people who will be taken off their medication. The Senate health care bill has a clause that allows Medicaid in individual states to stop covering mental health care in 2019. Ironically, the most mentally ill people in the country are on Medicaid. Medicaid is given to those who receive SSI disability benefits—people who have been so disabled they have never held a job. Four million people have been scrutinized by the government and declared so seriously mentally ill that they cannot work (and have never worked). All four million would potentially lose all access to the medication that keeps them stable. This includes over two million people with paranoid schizophrenia. The havoc this would wreak on society (and in individual lives) would be staggering .
Planned Parenthood should be defunded. Pro-lifers must insist on this. But the defunding of Planned Parenthood must not be wedded to other policies that will cause abortion and assisted suicide rates to skyrocket. If you call your senators, tell them to defund Planned Parenthood—and to stop the terrible health care cuts that will bring suffering and death to innumerable people.