Tuesday, December 1, 2009

WSJ Letters on Abortion Funding.

Two letters appear on the Wall Street Journal web site today. The first is by Guttmacher, the second by an individual in Michigan:

Sometimes accurate statistics can be used to draw inappropriate conclusions ("Limited Effect Seen in Abortion Clause," U.S. News, Nov. 17). True, the Guttmacher Institute estimates that some 160,000 women's abortions are currently direct-billed by the provider to private insurance plans annually, with an unknown, additional number of women seeking reimbursement after the fact. Also true, first-trimester abortions, which constitute 90% of all procedures, typically cost just over $400.

However, even putting aside the fact that later abortions, for instance in cases of fetal anomalies, can cost many thousands of dollars, neither of these figures is small, certainly not so small as to justify eliminating abortion coverage in private insurance plans. No one makes that case for other procedures that occur at similar rates or cost similar amounts, though for most people having to pay entirely out-of-pocket might not constitute an "insurmountable burden."

This is what is relevant: Abortion is a legal medical procedure that is recognized by health-care professionals to be medically appropriate and in some cases medically necessary, and its coverage by private insurance is currently the norm. American women, one in three of whom at current rates will have an abortion by age 45, shouldn't be denied the ability to purchase insurance that covers abortion care regardless of how many women use this coverage today.

A central reason why some women who have insurance that covers abortion choose not to use it is that the stigma surrounding abortion makes them fearful about who will find out. That antiabortion activists who have worked for decades to perpetuate that stigma are now using it to argue that the option of insurance coverage is underused and therefore unnecessary is deeply cynical.

Cory L. Richards

Executive Vice President

Guttmacher Institute


The 29-year-old Colorado woman's statements that abortion is "a woman's choice" and that the restriction on abortion in the House abortion bill "infringes on that choice" are ludicrous. Just because abortion is a woman's choice doesn't mean that the woman has the right to force a total stranger (i.e., a taxpayer) to pick up the tab for that choice. You cannot call something a "right" or a "choice" when exercising that "right" or "choice" means forcing someone to pay for it against his or her will. What about the right of taxpayers to spend their money as they see fit?

Chris Douglas

Grand Blanc, Mich.

Chris Douglas does some selective thinking here, not an uncommon approach to abortion funding. Where does he think the rest of his tax dollars go? Are all federal funds used for services that he approves of? And what makes him think that he has a right to dictate where tax dollars go when 1 in 3 women in the US is discriminated against by the Hyde Amendment? This "my federal dollars" rubbish is ludicrous, and used to protect a vocal minority's imposition of ideology on a legal service for all women.

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