Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Reform Rx - Answers About Abortion

A difficult road is ahead with a pending summer Congressional recess without resolution of health care reform. We have the enormous challenge of in Maine of trying to convince our Senators to support substantive reform with a robust public option that begins at the plan’s inception.

Across the land of non-universal health coverage there will be fear mongering about socialism, free market sainthood, anti-government propaganda, bureaucrats making choices for you, tax impositions, and mindless rationing. Radio right wingers and Republican office holders who pander to the same fears will be all over the airwaves and at an internet location near you. Attack ads about socialism will abound and our Canadian and European friends will be vilified as foisting ineffective health plans on their citizens that leave them in lines out into the streets dying.

Delay is what the opposition wanted. The slow down sought by them has been gained. They intend to bleed us by a thousand little cuts. Delay, slowing down to get it right, and bipartisan calls have never had the intention of working toward reforms to truly meet the needs of Americans. These actions have been about interrupting momentum, killing any worthwhile reforms, and passing some future feel good bill without teeth. It is an outright choosing of sides between serving people or supporting corporate interests.

If all the above slop that can be thrown at were not enough, expect far worse as the right wing, health care insurance lobby, and the Republican Party prepare to go nuclear big time. We’ve already seen the edgy stuff about grand conspiracies to euthanize older citizens and using reforms to establish a beholden class of beneficiaries supporting one-party rule. But while this gets the fringe excited, and the ads and talking heads keep inflicting those thousands of little cuts, abortion is entering stage right. Articles such as one on Tuesday by Star Parker are a sign of things to come.

Health care reform has never been about abortion. It has been about access, coverage, positive medical outcomes, and securing stability in a huge portion of our personal and national economies. But abortion is the irresistible bomb to throw without evidence and reason because it can really shift the entire focus to a single emotional issue. It can divide us; it is seen as a potential knock-out blow that is lethal to reform.

This is going to be tough as we try to cut through the emotion. Our responses must keep the vision positive and retain the high ground. Health care reform citizen-advocates like us need to engage this issue forthrightly to demonstrate what it is that we care about. We care that good pre-natal care is delivered to expecting mothers. We care that the infant mortality rate in our country is lowered. We care that all citizens have affordable access to medical professionals to improve their health and well-being.

Finally, no matter where one comes down on the emotional issue of abortion, there are long-term considerations that deserve reflection. A healthier population means less risky pregnancies. A society that develops better health education as part of its services leads to better overall choices prior to pregnancy. A plan that gives affordable access to all citizens, especially teen women, mothers, and children, is superior to one that forces difficult economic choices.

Abortion is not referenced in any of the major health-care bills now under consideration. But the temptation to follow the airwave warriors and the attack ad legions with the nuclear option is desired by the right because it can destroy everything. Our calm, factual, dispassionate responses to this assault will be an important factor in retaking the high ground. Citizens that value pro-choice rights can candidly say to anti-abortion advocates that substantive health care reform will in all likelihood make abortions rarer. The abortion debate will remain in the public arena regardless of enactment of any type of reform; health care reform will not be where this issue is resolved. Let us together provide health care for all, especially including the poor, mothers, pregnant women and children for whom we all share concern.

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