Exclusion of Abortion Coverage is Brazenly Bare by Anita Kuennen, RN

7 years ago


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A glaring absence of the Emperor’s clothing seems to be escaping our attention in the recent House health care reform proposal with the inclusion of the Stupak amendment. The Emperor is naked and while everyone is critiquing, arguing and validating the fabrics, thread and adornment of his new clothes, those of us looking at his bare bottom wonder how everyone became so deluded.

The collective blindness of the Kingdom is truly exposed in the concession of excluding abortion care to pass a House proposal that included a public option. Using women’s health and reproductive justice as the deal breaker once again demonstrates that reform is not intended to address basic issues of health care disparity in our country.

Similar to the members of the Emperor’s Kingdom, who believed there was substance to the garments, we are overcome with disillusionment. The grand solution of tweaking health insurance to magically cure the ingrained, systemic issues at the core of our health care failure is the ultimate fairytale.

Like the Tailor who spins the invisible threads of deception, Congress has focused on the interests of only the most powerful: corporate interests, singular religious dogma, the medical status quo and their distorted reflection. The Tailor’s magic is strong, and the crowd wants to be deceived, partly because any acknowledgement of their illusion is to admit their grand hypocrisy. Counteracting the filters of greed, disempowerment, marginalization and lack of compassion, would be like standing in front of the crowd naked – and for that, they have the Emperor.

Truly what this reform process has demonstrated is that our governance performs as a biased arbitrator of spending money provided by taxpayers for the infrastructure of our country, but the purpose is clear: furthering the agenda of the most powerful, wealthy and influential among us. What leverage is provided for those most impacted by gaps, omissions and downright disregard implied by a band-aid approach? People in the trenches of health care disparity understand that in order to change poor health outcomes and care spending, an emphasis on access for people to receive care that meets their needs is what we need, not a newly formulated insurance policy. Eliminating insurance coverage for access to abortion care only emphasizes that reproductive justice will once again suffer at the hands of the blinded elite.

Instead of restructuring and further segregation of who receives care, we should be looking at shifting the focus to actual health priorities and positive outcomes, not a fixation on the need to have everyone insured. As if a policy alone has anything to do with actual health or access to care. As the money allocations line up for the Emperor’s budget for prevention and new initiatives, one glaring omission stands out –support for service delivery. Another coalition, duplicative prevention planning forums, and research will not necessarily translate to real access for direct care that women can’t afford.

Reproductive health is a key determinant of women’s overall health and well documented evidence has shown that treatments and services that promote comprehensive reproductive health should be part of any national health reform. Abortion care, although not the only disparity in our current health care system, reflects the bargaining chip that is most easily traded for the invisible clothing our Emperor now sports.

For true reform, the emphasis needs to be on a system where people participate in the decisions regarding their own health, prevention opportunities are not cost prohibitive, and naked people deluding the masses are arrested for indecent exposure.


Kuennen is executive director of the Blue Mountain Clinic.

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