Health care bill abortion debate benefits women

Editorials featured in the Forum section are solely the opinions of their individual authors.

Last week, President Obama accomplished perhaps the greatest task of his presidency: He made health care reform a reality with his partners in Congress. In a last-minute ploy to sway those Congressmen who needed to appease their pro-life or otherwise ill-informed constituents, Obama issued an executive order just before the passage of the bill on March 21. Underscoring the existing language of the bill that delineated this payment package, Obama explicitly stated that federal funding cannot be used to finance abortions.

Ultimately, though, what will change?

At the moment, it seems that nothing, really, will change. Physical access to elective abortion procedures should be the same after ratification as it was before the bill was signed into law. Resource centers such as Planned Parenthood still exist, will still provide medical and surgical abortion procedures around the United States, and will still do their best to ensure that women seeking pregnancy termination are able to find the funding to do so when they need it most. Doctors in other offices can still perform abortions as well — the only thing that might be different is who you pay for the procedure.

Public perception of the relationship between public health care and women’s fertility rights has indeed been altered, however. In the long run, those of us who see the right to an abortion and the overall control over one’s own reproductive health as inherently sacred might see a change for the better. That is, the outrage on the part of staunchly pro-choice groups, such as Planned Parenthood, to Obama’s executive order could incite a movement of more candid dialogue about women’s reproductive rights.

To my fellow pro-choicers, who understand that the reasons for which women might need to procure an abortion are incredibly complicated, I want to make a call to you: Never back off from fighting for women’s reproductive health rights, especially for women trapped in under-served communities or otherwise unsafe environments. However, do not turn against this significant piece of social legislation, which is inherently leftward-leaning and intended to serve those previously left unprotected in a world of ever-increasing insurance premiums. Use the language of this bill to move forward.