Inconvenient News,
       by smintheus

Sunday, December 20, 2009

  Senate health care bill encourages teenage pregnancy

The condescension toward women in the congressional health care “reform” bills is simply staggering. In both the House and Senate versions, poor women are not to be allowed the same freedom as men to make their own health care decisions, at least insofar as they might decide to have an abortion. Instead, congressional Democrats have been busy devising various ways to make abortions as inaccessible as possible to the poor. The idea seems to be that any woman churlish enough to need health care subsidies has to be willing to allow the country’s religious zealots to exercise a veto over her medical care. It’s just a condition of poverty that women become second-class citizens.

True, Democrats in the Senate, taking what they describe as a principled stance on behalf of women’s rights, have come down firmly on the side of permitting poor women to spend their own damn money on abortion coverage, maybe. But that’s only if religious bigots at the state level don’t succeed in banning insurance-exchange health plans from covering abortions altogether. Senate Democrats have decided to allow individual states to do that because, I guess, a woman’s right to have a legal abortion varies from state to state as well as by income level. Who knew?

Soreheads might object that the legislation will effectively help to force some poor women to bear children they can’t or don’t want to rear. Fortunately, Senate Democrats are sensitive to that charge and have thoughtfully added provisions to sweeten the deal for these poor put upon women. They’re going to pay them to have the babies:

In what they described as an effort to reduce the demand for abortion, Democrats would provide money to help pregnant teenagers and new mothers so that they could stay in high school and attend college.

The federal government would provide $25 million a year for a “pregnancy assistance fund.” The money could be used for “maternity and baby clothing, baby food, baby furniture and similar items,” the proposal says.

The provision to subsidize the babies for young girls was added, you won’t be surprised to learn, by that notorious abortion scold, Sen. Robert Casey. The sole purpose of the subsidies is to reduce the number of abortions. In his press release, Casey proudly points to the support his provision receives from various conservative Christian groups ("faith leaders") – because, evidently, their opinions on health care matter more than those of the rest of us.

Oddly enough, however, he says nothing at all about what he or they make of the most astounding aspect of this provision: It encourages teenage pregnancy by offering financial rewards to pregnant teens.

The US already has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the industrialized world. Pregnancies carry significantly higher medical risks for teenagers. You might expect the federal government to want to continue its longstanding efforts to reduce teen pregnancies. But you wouldn’t have counted on the dauntless Bob Casey, who found a way to use health care negotiations to reverse course and actually encourage teens to have babies by subsidizing them.

“Hey,” Casey must have thought, “if subsidies will encourage people to get health insurance they otherwise wouldn’t want or be able to afford, why not …"

Update: Whatever it is I'm against it was the first to draw attention to this provision, commenting that the Democrats were creating this fund "to convince pregnant women and teenage girls that forced childbirth is okay".

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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

  Obama: We’ll be in Afghanistan forever

Consider these two starkly juxtaposed sentences from President Obama’s West Point speech tonight:

And as commander-in-chief, I have determined that it is in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan. After 18 months, our troops will begin to come home.

That makes no damned sense, as critics and political opponents will point out again and again in the coming years. If Afghanistan constitutes a “vital national interest”, then the US cannot afford to walk away from the country until all tranquility breaks out.

In fact Obama later went on to box himself in even more decisively:

I make this decision because I am convinced that our security is at stake in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is the epicenter of violent extremism practiced by al-Qaeda. It is from here that we were attacked on 9/11, and it is from here that new attacks are being plotted as I speak.

This is no idle danger, no hypothetical threat. In the last few months alone, we have apprehended extremists within our borders who were sent here from the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan to commit new acts of terror. And this danger will only grow if the region slides backwards and al-Qaeda can operate with impunity.

We must keep the pressure on al-Qaeda.


To abandon this area now and to rely only on efforts against al-Qaeda from a distance would significantly hamper our ability to keep the pressure on al-Qaeda and create an unacceptable risk of additional attacks on our homeland and our allies.

If al Qaeda remains permanently wedded to a base of terrorist operations in Afghanistan directed at the US, as Obama asserts, then what possible justification is there for setting a withdrawal date in 2011? Or for talking about any manner of withdrawal as long as “pressure” is needed on al Qaeda? Why “abandon” Afghanistan starting in 2011 when it’s “an unacceptable risk” now?

Obama’s attempt to justify the inherent contradictions of his position doesn’t come close to addressing our supposedly vital stake in Afghanistan or the dangerousness of al Qaeda. What he says is simply that the cost of an open-ended commitment is too great to bear, and besides a timetable for withdrawal is needed to force the Afghan government to take responsibility for its own security. All that tells us is that the American government has little to work with in Afghanistan, a country that by the way is vital to our national security.

Obama’s pronouncements that the US has “vital” interests in Afghanistan imply that we’re never pulling out. He may or may not fully realize that.

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