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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