Many people have asked “Where does PLAGAL stand on the issue of health care reform?” My answer has been, “like many other pro-life groups, our membership and our board are divided on the issue.” I have remained silent on the issue because I wanted to sit back and watch, listen and analyze all that I heard. It was disheartening to see prolifers fight over this debate. It angered me that one prolifer would think that another was not “pro-life” enough because they saw the solution differently and supported the health care bill. It angered me that one group would discredit another because they did not see the same issues in the health care bill that another did. You think I would be used to it by now because it has happened to PLAGAL members many a time over the years. Still, I am not used to it and it saddens me. Through all this debate I have come to the conclusion that the pro-life movement is made up of many genuine people who want to end abortion. The problem is that they have the approach that their way is the only way and everyone else is wrong. We forget that the pro-life community is a mix of people from all walks of life. They see the world from different sets of eyes. These different sets of eyes are based on life experiences and how they see the world around them. They bring different solutions to the table based on those life experiences. The one size fits all approach is wrong and a detriment to the movement. I have long said that nontraditional pro-life groups reach people that traditional groups could not reach and visa versa, which brings us to the health care debate.
The argument about the health care bill is if it pays for abortions or not. I personally don’t know if it does and it does not really matter to me if it does or not and here is why. My question is... Will more unborn be saved because of health care? Will this remove the obstacle that some women have when they find themselves in an unplanned pregnancy? Many people don't realize that there are many insurance companies and some states (with tax payer’s money) that already pay for abortion. It is my belief that we should focus on making abortion unthinkable by finding the root causes of abortion and dealing with those issues. Health care is one of the issues that many women, especially for the poor and working class, by not having it may push them to have an abortion. I have been called a communist and a socialist from many a pro-lifer because I have long advocated health care. Not just any health care mind you, but universal single payer health care, you know, the stuff run by the government where everyone is covered. This has made me unpopular among many pro-lifers even among some PLAGAL members. But my eyes see things differently than many others.
Until five years ago I have lived in the inner city of Cleveland Ohio. Now I live in a semi rural area of Ocala Florida. I have always lived in working class neighborhoods where I had to watch people make hard choices when it came to what they could pay for. Health care was one of those hard choices. It is a choice many times I had to make. Pay health care or utilities. Pay for health care or child care. It was always the most immediate need that won out. Even when I had health care many times I could not use it because I could not pay for the copay, or the deductible, so what good was it? I currently have fabulous health care from my employer (being PLAGAL president is not my job, I do that as a volunteer) but not without a cost and sacrifice. I spent ¼ of my income last year on health care between premiums, deductibles and co pays. I endured a Florida summer without air conditioning because I had to choose between dr visits, tests, surgeries or the electric bill and other utilities. I personally know of someone who died last year because they could not get the ongoing care they needed for high blood pressure. They were not fortunate to have an employer that offered health care. The monthly doctor visits cost him way too much. The doctors receive more from self pay individuals than they do from the insurance companies for the same service. They know that the insurance is going to negotiate a lower rate and they will take it from the insurance company but not from a self pay individual. How sad is that? I have met women who had abortions because they did not have health care and did not think they qualified for Medicaid. Then they worried what would happen after the pregnancy. It is these types of issues that have helped shaped the eyes I see out of.
What set of eyes do you see out of? Have you been fortunate enough that you have not had to make those tough choices? Have you been fortunate enough that you make enough money that this is not an issue for you? Are you fortunate enough that you have not had to go without health care because you always have had an employer that has offered health care at an affordable rate? Before you attack my stance on the issue, think about the set of eyes I am looking out of. What my life experiences have been. The things I have seen on my life’s journey.
I won’t ask you to contact your legislature and encourage them to vote one way or another. I do encourage you though to look at the issue and try to see it from the eyes of another and give them they respect even if you don’t agree. I ask that you read the legislation for yourself and draw your own conclusions. I ask that you contact your legislature and let them know your vision of the issue even if it is different than mine. Get involved.
For those who want to read the Senate Health care bill, the budget committees report on the health care bill check out this website http://www.rules.house.gov/