Monday, March 13, 2006

A simple reason some women choose abortion: anything else is too expensive

Last week I brought up again (New Abortion Law Full of Contradictions an argument I originally made last July, in which I pointed out that the success of liberals in reducing the number of abortions by means of education, birth control and family planning was much greater than the successes that conservatives have had by trying to ban it. I wrote in that post,

Abortion opponents like those in the South Dakota legislature need to keep in mind that there are a lot of ways to oppose something besides banning it. But maybe they are too narrow in their views to think of any.

The purpose of this post is to help out myopically focused conservatives by suggesting another way they could fight it. It is inspired by some research I ran across while I was responding to a post on Rum, Romanism and Rebellion. The specific article I ran across was this study of the socioeconomic profile of women who have abortions published by the Guttmacher Institute.

One thing that I discovered while reading the study (although, anecdotally I have known this for a long time) is that there is a direct relationship between a woman's financial situation and the likelihood that she will have an abortion rather than carry a pregnancy to term.

Now conservatives will certainly jump on the line in the report that indicates that women who receive medicaid are more likely to get an abortion, as proof that the fact that medicaid funds some abortions, makes it more likely that women will get one. True, in fact, but to do so misses the larger point: that this is only one example of the fact that women of limited means are likely to consider cost as a factor in whether to get an abortion. The study goes on beyond that and finds that there is a very direct linkage between income and abortion rates, even as high as 200% of the poverty line, where few if any women are on medicaid, but there are still very many who lack health insurance, and in particular women who lack health insurance are more likely to get abortions.

To begin with, even a healthy pregnancy and normal delivery at a typical hospital is likely to cost $3,000 when one adds up the bills for the hospital, the maternity ward, the obstetrician, the anaesthesiologist and the various other technicians involved. And if there is even a small complication, these costs can grow exponentially (for example, I had a friend whose wife delivered a baby in 2000 that required an operation to correct a defect; he had no insurance, and by the time they were done, he had a $17,000 bill). For most women who are facing a tough financial situation, the choice between $500 today (the approximate cost of an abortion even if there is no insurance payment) and $3000 minimum at a hospital in a few months, is a clear one. For financial reasons alone, abortion is likely to be the preferred choice. In the study it points out that 73% of women who get an abortion have previously been pregnant; 12% have had a previous abortion but never a birth (36% have had both before). This means that 61% of women who get an abortion have already borne one or more children, so it is not like they are against having children. But it is entirely possible, as the study shows, that they may not be able to afford another one right now. Adoption is an alternative that some women choose, but many don't want to have to go through nine months of pregnancy just to sign their child over to another person, and the idea that they might do this for the specific reason that they wouldn't have to pay a large bill at the hospital (it is legal for adoptive parents to pay all expenses) comes perilously close to baby selling.

As such, I would like to ask conservatives if they would object to a very limited but very complete universal coverage bill: a bill which covers all hospital, physician, technician and prescription costs associated with pregnancy, delivery and if necessary complications directly arising from pregnancy and birth, including to correct birth defects and any complications arising to the mother (in fact, maybe even paying for it via a tax on abortions.) Of course, abortion would be unaffected by the bill and would still cost what it does today, about $500 unless insurance will cover it (plus maybe a small increase due to the tax mentioned a moment ago.) This would not eliminate the long term economic impact of having more kids, but would certainly address the needs of those women who are choosing abortion because they are uninsured and are certain they can't afford a delivery.

It seems to me that if this were the case, then the at least the short term economic incentive for abortion would be removed. So I'm asking, conservatives, if you are against abortion, is this a measure you could support?

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

What a crock. Women have abortions because they don't want to disturb their lives by raising a child. They would rather live their lives regretting an abortion rather than face the challenges and change of bringing and rearing a new life. Men and Women who have sex also take on the responsibility that sex creates. What they are afraid of is the responsibility. The en in this are just as much or more at fault as the women.

Eddie81 said...

I'm a conservative but I am not against abortion. I am against Roe v. Wade taking the choice away from states and the people.

You present an interesting argument but I am more inclined to agree with anonymous (Comment #1). Personal responsibility has to be in there somewhere.

Perhaps, if the citizens of each state get to vote on abortion bans or restrictions, they simultaneously have to vote to pay for medical expenses of deliveries??? I would accept coverning up to 50%. The mother/father have to have some responsibility for their actions and have to pay for some of the expenses.

Eli Blake said...

Anonymous:

A crock? I have personally known of cases where a woman had an abortion precisely for this reason (hence the line about 'anecdotally' in the post). I know of a case in the family of someone I know very well, where a woman died in the 1930's from an illegal abortion, after the family determined that they could not afford another child. Obviously you have been raised in a pampered situation where you have never had to face reality.

And go ahead and read through the study yourself. The results are pretty clear-- the poorer the woman, the more likely it is that she will have an abortion. Sorry if hard data punctures your little bubble of a world-view, but calling it a 'crock' won't change the facts.

Besides, if a woman is having an abortion for the reason you state, then she will have it anyway, so this bill would affect nothing in her case.

Eddie: The problem with 50% is that $1500 (with the sky is the limit if something is wrong) > $500, so you achieve little in this case. Now, what about a co-pay, of say $250? Then it is still less than $500, and further, if a woman is of limited financial means and uninsured, do you really want to stick her with a $1500 bill when she is supposed to be caring for a baby? How pro-life is it to force her to skimp on diapers so she can pay the bill?

EAPrez said...

Would be cheaper if they provided access to birth control and morning after pills. If preventing abortions is what they really want then preventing pregnancy is the first step.


And regarding anonymous - forcing women to bear children because 'you' and others like you don't like the fact that people have sex is simply a ridiculous argument. Sex is not illegal - it is not up to you or anyone else to decide who women have sex with and when they have it. You want women to 'suffer the consequences of thier actions' yet you want to limit access to information and birth control. Makes no sense. Why should someone be forced into parenthood just because they had sex? Parenthood as punishment?? Not all people buy into the religious idea that sex is only for procreation.

Eli Blake said...

EAPrez:

Parenthood as punishment??

Good point. That would really lead to a well-adjusted, successful kid, to have mom laying that one on them every day. Just hope they aren't living in your neighborhood when they reach their teen years.

Jack Hampton said...

You mean that some people actually have sex because they enjoy it? And its legal?

Perish the thought.

Eli Blake said...

EAPrez and Jack:

Consider that quite a few of those who have abortions are married.

Are conservatives suggesting that even married people should be abstinent if they can't afford another kid?

Kralmajales said...

I used to fall in the "personal responsibility" fold on this one "anon #1" and "eddie81", but I have come to learn that as a male, this argument just doesn't fly. There are so many others that you can believe about abortion, but portraying people who make mistakes as evil, or lazy, only devalues them as a human. It shows that you just don't care at all about what people go through.

I hope that you meet someone someday who is facing this. I don't wish it to be your son or daughter facing this decision and fearing your attitude of personal responsibility. I also hope you don't have to go through the pain of watching your child sacrifice their dreams or take on a pariah status for carrying the child to term..even to adopt it. Does anyone remember that person in your high school that had to drop out because she was pregnant, the jokes, the fact that in some states they have to attend a horrible alternative school?

All of this is because we DO NOT celebrate life when people are not ready to carry a child to term...and it is because of those arrogant, uncaring "personal responsibility" arguments that we are all guilty of making sometimes.

shayna said...

Oh no anonymous didn't...

I suppose anonymous is also against abortion when a woman is raped and gets pregnant by their rapist...

I would like to have anonymous think of the life of a woman raped by someone she did or did not know and I would like anonymous to tell me that they would "Honestly" tell me that deep down they would want that child and love that child and never hold it against that child. Then I would like anonymous to think about laws that ALLOW the rapist to be apart of the childs life... YES... gives the rapist RIGHTS to that child he conceived by rape. THAT rapist would be in the woman's life that he brutally raped FOREVER!!!!!

And anonymous if you are a man... then think about your wife or daughter who could very easily be raped and this happen to them... WOULD YOU want them to carry that child...

I'm not sure what I would do in that incident... BUT... at least I would have the option!!!

_____________________

I find it funny that anonymous chose not to put their name... cowards hide...

"Women have abortions because they don't want to disturb their lives by raising a child." Maybe some do but not all... I have known of a few incidents where that WAS NOT the case. The family had no means of raising that child nor the money/insurance during the pregnancy. One lady I know of actually did the coat hanger abortion and died and this was just a few years ago... she and her husband had 3 kids and he said that they just couldn't have another and they didn't have the money for a legal abortion. SAD!
____________________
It does seem a lot of times that those so opposed to abortion are also opposed to birth controll... Can't win for losing I suppose...

EAPrez said...

Lots are married - almost 50 million people in this country are uninsured. Being uninsured doesn't equate to lazy and unemployed as many are working folks - folks trying to survive in the 'new economy'. No access to birth control, ob gyn services etc. As the economy worsens, abortions - just like crime - increase. Another thing about the 'pregnancy' as punishment theory floated by 'anonymous' poster that just drives me off the deep in is that the man if he chooses can walk away - and the woman is the only one who is 'forced' to bear the responsibility. In Ohio the funds for Child Support Enforcement have been slashed. A young girl and her children sentenced to a life of poverty because some religious zealot thinks an unplanned pregnancy is the result of illicit sex and someone must pay. Poor, disconnected women are the only ones who pay because those with the means to get an abortion will continue to get one.

Anonymous said...

EAPrez:

Regarding your comment, "Not all people buy into the religious idea that sex is only for procreation":

Firstly, the "idea" is actually that sex is both for procreation AND for enjoyment, but enjoyment within a holy marriage, as per "shall become one flesh" (Genesis).

Secondly, it is irrelevant whether "religious" people or non-religious people "buy into" the idea; the idea is God's and He will be the one to face in judgment, and He has no interest in debating His commands - He is always right. So, the real choice is whether you're willing to risk that God exists, whether the Old Testament (and New Testament) is truly God's command, whether He hands out judgment that is just, including to a "terminated" conceptus/zygote/fetus/baby, whether He is forgiving, or whether you're ready to submit to His will in humility. As to the truth of God's existence and the other issues just noted, you will find much less reliable evidence for ANY other ancient documents and much less cohesive logic in any philosophy than in biblical doctrine; but don't believe me and stop regurgitating misconceptions about biblical doctrine, instead check the biblical evidence for yourself -- the worst thing that might happen from your perspective is that you'd gather more argument against "religious ideas", though the worst thing that might happen from my perspective if you don't check out the evidence for yourself is that I might not be able to meet you in heaven some day.

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Eli Blake said...

Get lost, spambot. I still get notified when I get spammed, even on old posts.

Anonymous said...

I had an abortion a week and a half ago. It took every last penny we had. I want a baby with my husband and I am sad, but I know I made the right decision. We could barely afford the abortion. How could we afford the child? I don't even have health insurance...