Saturday, 14 May 2011

Abortion Funding Push-Back

As we sane people recover from the annual March for Feti bunfest, let's look south where fetus fetishists are revelling in a frenzied war on women. In April alone, 33 anti-abortion bills were enacted in various states.

Thirty-three. In one month. More than one per day.

Of course, the biggest (so far) battle lost to the zygote zealots was the Democrats' shameful abandonment of women in what they straightfacedly call healthcare reform in 2009. Abortion would not be funded. No way, no how, not in any shape or form. (Not that the virulent nutjobs actually believe that.)

See, that's the Wedge. Funding.

The terrific facty-sciency organization, Guttmacher Institute, is tracking the progress of various reproductive rights bills in the US on a monthly and state-by-state basis. It makes for dreary reading.

Again, in April alone, there were 23 pending or passed bills on abortion funding in state legislatures.

And while Stephen the Bald-Faced Liar (income trusts, anyone?) swears he will not open the abortion so-called debate, the same tactic can be deployed here. A fetish fetishist said so right out loud.
And Georges Buscemi, president of Campagne Québec-Vie, said abortion services can be scaled back without a new law making the procedure illegal.

For instance, federal funding to family-planning organizations "can be diverted to other groups that are more open to life."

"There could be some behind-the-scenes work done," Buscemi said at news conference.

"Different things, subsidies to different organizations, policies on health, policies on education. There are a lot of things that can be done behind the scenes to prepare for the future."

Here's why the Wedge can work here too.

When Canadian fetus fetishists do their polling, they consistently get results that must depress the hell out of them. Canada remains stoutly pro-choice.

But the answer that comes closest to what they want to hear is on the funding issue. In a 2008 poll, responders were most closely split on taxpayer funding: 49% in favour, 47% opposed.

I went looking for more recent polls and found three from Angus Reid summed up here.

Polls from July 2009 to July 2010 showed a stable level of support for funding for all abortions no matter the reason (43-44%).

Similarly, support for funding only in the event of medical emergencies has slipped from 44% in 2009 to 39% in 2010.

But here's a potentially worrying trend. Those who believe the healthcare system should fund NO abortions has grown from 4% in 2009, to 7% in January 2010, to 10% in July 1010.

So, when the Austerity Boogeyman is rolled out in all its horrifying opportunism menace, who's going to be 'behind the scenes' whispering about a good place to start in healthcare cost-control?

Yes, yes, I know. As was repeatedly pointed out to me on Twitter during the bunfest, healthcare is PROVINCIAL, not federal. But transfer payments come from the feds.

We need to start pushing back on this one.

Here's an interesting idea.

A group in BC, Options for Sexual Health (Opt), is lobbying the province to provide free contraception. It is making the usual arguments about sex ed, STDs, responsibility, yadayada, but what I find potentially useful is the economic argument.
According to Opt medical director Dr. Unjalli Malhotra, Opt’s proposal would save the Province $95 million in health and social expenditures, freeing up health-care resources and services for other needs. Figures are based on international experience and Health Canada data on the impact of sexual health programming collected over 20 years.

“The economic aspects are probably one of the most important as there is an up-front cost to a program like this,” said Malhotra, who is also a clinical associate professor at University of British Columbia.

“But when we look at other programs globally such as the U.K., Sweden, in fact most Scandinavian countries and many European nations, we’ve actually found that for every dollar spent on contraception, anywhere from $2 to $11 has actually been saved to the system.”

Malhotra explained the costs of having 300,000 unplanned pregnancies per year across the country.

“When we look at the number of unplanned pregnancies in a country like Canada, we find that there are approximately 300,000 or more per year and approximately 100,000 of those lead to abortion,” she said.

“Contraception is about $100 a year per woman, which is $3,000 for 30 years.”

She said that for one unplanned pregnancy, the cost of a spontaneous vaginal delivery with no complications is actually the same as giving someone contraception for 33 years.

“The cost of one abortion is equivalent to the cost of two years of contraception and the cost of one no-complications delivery is equivalent to 33 years of contraception,” she said.

Of course, free contraception for all is not going to eliminate the need for abortion services. But stated like that -- 1 abortion = 2 years of contraception -- it could be an important talking point.

Here's our reasonable response to 'reopening the debate' on the funding issue: 'Fine, we'll talk about funding only if free contraception for all is also on the table.'


Fun, innit?


Anonymous said...

I like the idea of no funding for abortions ONLY IF contraception is free nationwide.

This said, it's still a dangerous game to play with women's lives. We only have to look south to see what happens when women do not have access to abortion services when they need it...

Women, in Canada and elsewhere, have been lured for way to long into thinking that our rights were safe and secure. I think now it's time for a gruesome wake-up call. It's time to seriously start fighting for this, and one great way to start is to get the correct info. Anti-choicers spend lots of money doing bogus research and so we have to be upfront to stop their propaganda in its tracks.

Because make no mistake. These people will NEVER stop attempting to deny women their rights. We are not dealing with reasonable, logical people here, but with pathologically obsessed individuals, hungry for control over women's bodies. We are dealing with dangerous extremists that put women's lives at risk, and they will use ANY means at their disposal to do so.

Anonymous said...

Defunding abortion was promised by the Conservatives in Sask once (Grant Devine gov't). They got elected and immediately hired a bunch of lawyers to examine the issue. The legal opinion was that in a universal healthcare system, defunding abortion while funding pregnancy and childbirth, would constitute discrminiation on the basis of sex and would not pass a charter sniff test. The government said, "oops" and walked away quietly from the idea. There was no outraged response from the good people of Sask. Eventually they kicked out the Devine government, not because they failed to deliver on forcing women to continue each and every pregnancy, but because they were corrupt and plunged the province into debt.

Anonymous said...

Free contraception and free abortion services are both needed and both should be required. If you are a woman and you are the one who incurs the risk of being or staying pregnant, being able to prevent or stop that process is just an essential part of your health care. Incidentally, I live in New Brunswick where my abortion was not funded and I had to pay out of pocket. I could barely manage and NAF had to help me. As my doctor reminded me whilst trying to convince me to keep the pregnancy, prenatal care and birth would be free. If I couldn't afford $800 for an abortion, how could I afford to keep and raise a child? I tried to explain the math but she assured me that "people on welfare do it," so it's doable. And that is probably where I'd be if I'd had the baby.

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