The real anti-reform cost: Two women die every day giving birth in America

The Witch No. 3. Image from Wikipedia

In honor of the vote on healthcare reform, I think it’s a good idea to keep some perspective and remember what the Republican obstructionists and some of their lovely anti-choice Democrat friends will be voting against today.

I wrote about the blatant hypocrisy of the anti-choice crowd yesterday, and how — if they were truly serious about protecting the sanctity of life — they would be the first bloc voting for reform.

Millions of children are uninsured, or under-insured in this country. Additionally, many single women opt for abortions simply because the average price tag of delivering a baby (that is delivery only, and not adding in the cost of raising a child) is $25,000.

Now, a new report from Amnesty International notes that nearly two women die every day from complications related to pregnancy or childbirth, and sadly, many of these deaths could have been prevented.

The report, titled, “Deadly Delivery: The Maternal Health Care Crisis in the USA,” highlights the abysmal figures, including how women of color are more likely to receive inadequate prenatal care:

* One in four women do not receive adequate prenatal care, starting in the first trimester. The number rises to about one in three for African American and Native American women.

* Burdensome bureaucratic procedures in Medicaid enrollment substantially delay access to vital prenatal care for pregnant women seeking government-funded care.

* A shortage of health care professionals is a serious obstacle to timely and adequate care, especially in rural areas and inner cities. In 2008, 64 million people were living in “shortage areas” for primary care (which includes maternal care).

Here is Jennie Joseph, a professional midwife from Florida, addressing the report’s authors:

“If you go to apply to the medicaid system, you need a ‘proof of pregnancy’ letter, with the due date, the date of your last period, and the gestational age of the baby. Where do you get that kind of a letter? A doctor. If you have no Medicaid, how are you going to get to the doctor to get that letter?”

In addition to that vicious cycle, the report shows childcare has deteriorated significantly since 1987 when the death rate was 6.6 per 100,000 live births. In 2006, it doubled to 13.3 deaths per 100,000 live births.

Yet the anti-choice crew has fought tooth and nail to stall, neuter, and kill health care reform, all in the name of “preserving life.” Whose lives? Define “preserving.”

Democratic officials have said they are pursuing the idea of promising that Obama would issue an executive order prohibiting the use of taxpayer money for abortions, an utterly redundant move that is already addressed in the Hyde Amendment. The promise came in response to Stupak’s hysterical cries, and his (thankfully) thwarted demands to have a separate vote on the abortion issue.

The Democrats appear hellbent on caving to anti-choicers’ demands even though Stupak and Company’s “pro-life” claims don’t mean they’re pro-life in the sense that they want to work to prevent two women dying every day from the shitty healthcare system.

Nor do they care about the women (especially women of color,) and their fetuses who lack prenatal care.

Nor do they care about the 64 million people living in shortage areas.

Nor do they care about the 8 million uninsured children living in the US.

Nor do they seem terribly concerned that half of American children will live in households receiving food stamps before the age of 20, and that 14 million American children live in families with incomes below the federal poverty level, and there are 2.5 million more children living in poverty today than in 2000.

Stupak, and all the Republicans voting against reform today, don’t harbor reasonable pro-life demands in the sense that they wish the bill provided wider coverage to help poor people, or included a public option to insure more Americans. Their qualm is that the bill doesn’t contain even more hurdles designed to prevent women from determining the fate of their own bodies.

Being an anti-reformist (as the Republicans and a handful of Centrist Democrats have proudly presented themselves over the past few months,) is strikingly anti-life.

One can certainly argue that this bill is lacking in the sense that there isn’t a public option, it’s a bonanza for the drug companies, and it hand delivers millions of new paying customers to the private health insurance companies. Yet, these aren’t the complaints of Stupak’s crew. Theirs is a shockingly antiquated, religiously dogmatic, anti-woman argument.

This isn’t my opinion. These are Stupak’s own words. When confronted with a pro-reform letter signed by 60 leaders of religious orders representing 59,000 Catholic nuns, Stupak said, “When I’m drafting right to life language, I don’t call up the nuns.” Instead, he consults with other religious groups including “leading bishops, Focus on the Family, and The National Right to Life Committee.”

After all, vaginas — even holy nun vaginas — can’t be trusted in these matters. Well, at least Stupak will take comfort in the knowledge that every day there are two less bothersome women using up the nation’s precious resources thanks to America’s inadequate health system.

Link to this article:

– Allison Kilkenny


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