Thursday, June 3, 2010

Health Care Law Leads to New Pro-Life Opportunities in the States

The new health care law, while blasted by many opponents of abortion (though supported by some pro-lifers) is proving to provide new opportunites to protect the unborn at the state level and in private, commerical health insurance.

At least 11 states have passed laws this year regulating or restricting abortion, giving the pro-life cause what partisans on both sides of the issue say is an unusually high number of victories.

In the past, conservative Pro-Life groups have said and done little about abortion in private health insurance plans. To do so would have upset alliances with Big Business and other conservative activists opposed to government regulation of private companies. Instead, the focus was on government policies that often concerned a much smaller number of abortions or even matters only indirectly touching on abortion.

In the health care debate, progressive pro-lifers took their conservative brethren to task for their historic silence on this issue and the sometimes twisted arguements they had to make on the heath care bill while avoiding the admission of their past silence. Groups now seem ready to make up for their past inaction.

The new law enhances the ability of states to restrict abortion in private plans. The Democratic controlled state Legislature in Mississippi became the latest to prohibit insurance comapnies from offering plans that include abortion to be sold on the exchange. Federal law prohibits subsidies for abortions, but states also have the right to even prohibit the unsubsidized sale of abortion riders.

The non-partisan Nebraska Legislature has also acted.

Even conservative anti-abortion leaders are now admitting the federal govenrment does not have all that much to say about abortion.

“Ninety percent of pro-life legislation happens at the states,” said Daniel S. McConchie, vice president for government affairs at Americans United for Life, a pro-life group. “While Congress is the main focus of attention for so many people in the country, state legislatures have greatest impact on daily lives, and life-related legislation is no exception.”

Abortions in the United States have been increasingly concentrated among poor women and those without health insurance, whose rates have gone up even as the overall national rate has declined. This is why many pro-lifers including Catholic bishops and Cardinals and others not wedded to secular conservative politics have noted that by providing national health care, the unborn are protected.

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