By Emilie C. Ailts

Access to abortion is being used to hijack legitimate debate about the scope and type of health care reform.

While it’s true that abortion is a complex issue that brings out strong emotions from all ends of the spectrum, it’s important to remember that abortion is just one aspect of the full range of reproductive health care services a woman may seek throughout her lifetime. This headline-grabbing focus on the “a-word” means opportunities to use health care reform to increase access to and use of other vital reproductive services could be lost to political gamesmanship.

Take, for example, gaps for those women who choose to carry their pregnancies to term. In 2007, the National Women's Law Center ranked Colorado 42nd overall when it came to women receiving adequate prenatal care. Research has tied inadequate prenatal care to premature and low-weight births -- which in turn can lead to children exhibiting behavioral and developmental problems.

How can health care reform address this gap? We know that some insurance companies consider pregnancy a pre-existing condition -- grounds to deny coverage. In addition, rates for some insurance plans are based on gender; as a result, women get charged more for the same coverage as men their age even though pregnancy usually isn’t covered in these plans. Because of these practices, women face financial hurdles in obtaining the prenatal care they need to have a healthy pregnancy and to deliver a healthy baby. There’s clearly room for improvement in just those aspects of the health care system.

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Unknown said...

I completely agree with you. Abortion is indeed used by lobbyists on both sides of the spectrum in order to contest the said reproductive health reform. However, I feel like it is not the biggest egg in the basket. This is not the only issue that the reform covers. I think a good thing to do is just to initially set aside the clause for abortion and ratify the reform in order to give everyone adequate access to reproductive health services. I believe we can tackle abortion in a later period. This is in order to address the alarming growth of reproductive health inadequacies that mothers are facing during pregnancy.
Vesta Duvall