October 18, 2011 by Andrea Mrozek 4 Comments
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Why Abortion Care Must Be Fully Funded
By Joyce Arthur
October 20, 2011
Anti-choice activists in Canada argue that abortion should be defunded and that women should pay out-of-pocket for abortion care. But that is a right-wing ideological position that ignores evidence and human rights. Defunding abortion would be unconstitutional, discriminatory, and harmful to women. The following points explain why. (Each point is expanded upon here with detailed arguments, evidence and citations.)
1. Women’s lives and health are at stake. Funding abortion is necessary to guarantee women’s right to life and security of the person under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The main reason the Supreme Court threw out the old abortion law in 1988 was because it arbitrarily increased the risk to women’s health and lives through unnecessary delays and obstructed access. Not funding abortion would have the same effect and the same constitutional problems as the old abortion law, and would put politics and ideology ahead of women’s lives and health.
2. Women’s liberty and conscience rights under the Charter require abortion to be funded. The government must not interfere with the deeply personal decision to bear a child or not, which is integral to women’s autonomy and privacy. Otherwise, the government would be co-opting women’s right to choose by funding childbirth but not abortion, and paternalizing women with an official stance of moral disapproval of abortion.
3. Since only women need abortions, funding abortion is necessary to ensure women’s legal right to be free from discrimination. Restrictive policies and laws that apply to only one gender violate human rights codes that provide protection on the basis of sex. Further, women’s equality rights under the Charter cannot be realized without access to safe, legal, fully funded abortion—otherwise, women would be subordinated to their childbearing role in a way that men are not.
4. Abortion funding is crucial to ensure fairness and equity, without discrimination on the basis of income. We must not compel low-income women and other disadvantaged women to continue an unwanted pregnancy due to lack of funding, or to delay care while they try to raise money. Any delay in abortion care raises the medical risks, especially when it extends into the second trimester. Delays are also a punitive burden that unnecessarily prolong stress and discomfort for women. Best medical practice should ensure that abortion takes place as early as possible in pregnancy, and this requires full funding.
5. Funding abortion is very cost-effective while unwanted pregnancies are costly. The medical costs of childbirth are about four times higher than the medical costs of abortion, and the social costs of forced motherhood and unwanted children are prohibitive. Further, the overall cost of abortion care to the taxpayer is a pittance relative to healthcare costs as a whole.
6. Funding abortion serves to integrate abortion care into the healthcare system in general, and ensure the comprehensiveness of reproductive healthcare programs, which is essential. If abortions were not funded, it would ghettoize abortion care, as well as the women who need it and the healthcare professionals who deliver it. This would likely increase stigma, lead to other restrictions, further marginalize abortion care over time, and increase anti-choice harassment and violence. All of this occurred in the United States after abortion was defunded for poor women by the 1973 Hyde Amendment.
7. Funding abortion is the right thing to do, despite some peoples’ belief that abortion takes a human life. There is no social consensus on the moral status of the fetus, and our laws do not bestow legal personhood until birth. Regardless, most Canadians believe that the woman’s rights are paramount in all or most circumstances, because she is the one taking on the health risks of pregnancy, bearing a child is a major decision with significant lifelong consequences, and a woman should be able to direct her own life and pursue her own aspirations apart from motherhood.
8. Legal abortion is very safe for women, and generally beneficial. The alleged medical and psychological “dangers” of abortion to women as described by anti-choice activists are either totally false or grossly overstated. Such arguments cannot support the defunding of abortion anyway, since pregnancy and childbirth are actually far more medically risky, and many other funded medical treatments carry substantial risk. Access to legal, safe, fully funded abortion is also beneficial for women and families because it allows them to continue with their lives and plan wanted children later when they are ready to care for them.
9. Opinion polls showing that a majority of voters do not want to pay for abortion are misleading and not pertinent. Voter opinion on this issue has been shaped by anti-choice misinformation, as well as lingering prejudice about women who have abortions. Regardless, voters have no authority to dictate what medical treatments to fund, as this is the role of provinces and medical groups. Women’s basic rights and freedoms must not be subject to a majority vote.
10. Abortion must be funded because it is not an elective procedure, any more than childbirth is. Pregnancy outcomes are inescapable, meaning that a pregnant woman cannot simply cancel the outcome—once she is pregnant, she must decide to either give birth or have an abortion. To protect her health and rights, both outcomes need to be recognized as medically necessary and fully funded, on an equal basis.
11. Anti-choice activists often say that “pregnancy is not a disease” and therefore abortion should not be funded. But the same arguments can be made for childbirth, since there are no medical reasons for a woman to get pregnant and have a baby. More importantly, health is much more than the absence of disease – it’s about achieving a state of overall health and wellness. Women with unwanted pregnancies are not in a healthy place, so their abortion care should be funded.
Taken from: http://www.arcc-cdac.ca/action/why-abortion-must-be-funded.html
Also, you really should pick up a history book, maybe one that hasn’t been propagandized to your ends; maybe one that actually talks about women as autonomous individuals and not just slaves to their body, their sex and their patriarchies. This ( http://www.ucpress.edu/book.php?isbn=9780520216570 ) is a good place to start.
“Anti-choice activists in Canada argue that abortion should be defunded and that women should pay out-of-pocket for abortion care.”
No, actually we argue that abortion is a human rights atrocity and we shouldn’t be forced to participate in it through our taxes. We certainly do not argue that anyone should pay, out-of-pocket or otherwise, for abortions.
a) i am not joyce arthur. i lovingly reposted from the article referenced at the bottom of my previous comment.
b) a human rights atrocity?! are you serious?!
wow, i’m face to face with some serious denial of facts… in my eyes, and the eyes of a majority of canadians, it’s a human rights atrocity to deny a woman a medical procedure which is safe and effective because the cluster of cells she is removing MAY grow to be a living human one day. your religious dogma and ill-educated assumptions on the beginning of life and the importance to fulfilling some biological mandate LEADS TO DEADLY CIRCUMSTANCES for women who are NOT CAPABLE for whatever reason of raising a child. indeed, i’ll even agree that if you don’t want to have to fund it with your taxes, you shouldn’t have to; perhaps in a perfect world, our tax dollars would actually do what we want them to, but alas we live in THIS world. abortion MUST continue to be socially funded for equal access to continue; canada is very lucky to have abortion services that we are provided with, and the threats to it are taken seriously by those who feel it is important. to disallow WOMEN – and ONLY women, as the article pointed out – something that historically has allowed them to save their lives, create greater autonomy, and feed their existing children without fear of repercussions from their partner, or death from childbirth or more economic hardship… is naive, controlling, and generally insane. …a human rights atrocity…
what’s a human rights atrocity is that there are over 100,000 children in this world who STARVE TO DEATH every day because of mismanaged resources, lack of access to contraception and abortions, and poor education.
what’s a human rights atrocity is that there are people who would rather focus on the future of an unborn cluster of cells in a woman’s uterus, than the millions of living humans who need their help NOW.
what’s a human rights atrocity is that there are people who believe that outlawing a medical practice, which has been made modern and safe and has historical roots in almost every culture in the world, is for the benefit of those seeking it out – for their own good. if that isn’t a patriarchal piece of garbage, i don’t know what is. women – Dan – ARE ABLE to make difficult decisions for themselves. the depth of sadness i feel when i see a woman agreeing with your point of view is so beyond anything you could comprehend; i know that she has given up her independence and self-esteem in exchange for dogma and dictates.
again i will reference the book “When Abortion Was a Crime,” ( http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ISBN=0520088484/theatlanticmonthA/ ) as an excellent source of evidence that women’s health care will always require abortion funding, and what happens when it is criminalized. remember horror stories of women sticking wire hangers up their vaginas? THEY’RE REAL.
thanks for the food for thought. perhaps you will actually critically think about your very masculine and religious perspective this time, instead of simply dismissing any challenge to your beliefs.
Yes, I am perfectly serious. You are the one who is in denial of the facts, because your entire argument rests on the false assertion that a human embryo is only a “cluster of cells that may grow to be a living human some day.”
Modern embryology tells us that a human embyro is a whole living member of the species Homo sapiens, ie. a human being. This fact can be found in any modern human embryology textbook. For example, here is the definition of “zygote” taken from a widely used embryology text:
“Zygote. This cell results from the union of an oocyte and a sperm during fertilization. A zygote is the beginning of a new human being (ie., an embryo).”
Keith L. Moore and T.V.N. Persaud, “The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology”, Saunders, 7th edition (2002), page 2.
Starting with a clear scientific understanding of what kind of entity a human embryo is, we can begin to address the philosophical question of what moral respect, if any, is owed to human embryos. Here is my answer to that question:
A human embryo deserves full moral respect because it is an entity of precisely the same kind as you or me, albeit at a much earlier stage of his or her natural development. In fact, each of us was once an embryo, who then developed through the embryonic, fetal, infant, toddler, child, adolescent and adult stages.
If you are going to propose that an embryonic human does not deserve full moral respect, you are really proposing that not all human beings deserve moral respect. That means that you are denying that human beings are valuable because of the kind of entity that they are, and you are instead proposing that the moral value of human beings is derived from some acquired characteristic, that some human beings have and others do not, and which may vary in degree from one human being to the next. You have tossed away entirely the notion of equality, and instead replaced it with some kind of horrible utilitarian hierarchy of rights. All of this you can conclude even before you have decided which acquired characteristic is actually the relevant one.
If you want a clear-headed and unsentimental analysis of what follows logically from the proposition that not all human beings deserve moral respect, I recommend that you read some of the material published by Princeton professor Peter Singer. One of his articles is entitled “Killing babies is not always wrong.”
You will notice that my argument is based on logic and not religious dogma. If the teachings of certain religions happen to align with my reasoning, that is to their credit, but it does not come about because I blindly followed their teaching.
Nor is there anything patriarchal in my reasoning. I would ask you to consider what my reasoning demands of men, and not just what it demands of women. A truly pro-life man will never do anything that may result in a woman getting pregnant against her will. Please think about that before you go mouthing off about the patriarchy.