Today, 3/21/10, the House votes on an extremely important piece of legislation on the path to universal health care coverage in the US. This bill is far from perfect, and I have been on the fence because it is not comprehensive enough, however, as an important step it must pass. Finally, the president is showing some leadership on the issue. He also chose to use the Democratic majority to get things done--slow learner, but maybe he understood that the sole aim of the Republicans is to obstruct and to make a disaster out of any Dem initiative. The GOP knows that the voters won't give a passing grade to Obama & the Dems just for trying!
Universal health care is something any advanced democracy (where the government acts on the public interest) should have. It makes sense, it promotes longer, healthier, happier lives. We can save more lives and reduce suffering through this than by spending on ..armed defense more than the whole world combined!
A sticking point for some conservative Dems have been whether public funds would be used for abortions. Abortion should be a decision left to the individual woman who should have access to all legal medical services without irrational and ideological restrictions placed on her and her doctor. Unfortunately, there are some religious stiffs who have a problem with sex. Yes, it is about sex as they define it. Reproductive choice, they argue, should not be an option!
There is some very interesting news regarding this issue. After Massachussetts passed its health care reform, the abortion rates when down. Furter studying of this is necessary but here are some observations:
- the knowledge that her child will have access to health care may reduce abortions; MA Medicaid provides help to the poorest women to have an abortion but even so abortions went down in MA.
- with regular, affordable check ups, women can make better choices, including birth control.
- in other countries there's a strong correlation between abortion rates and the strength (or absence) of health care; the US ranks highest among advanced democracies.
But, I suppose it's the Biblical principle that dictates the children pay for the sins of their parents...
To the opponents of reform: Is health care a human right or a privilege? Should the US save the lives of tens of thousands of Americans by extending coverage to those who don't have health care and/or are under-insured? The answer will determine the kind of society we are.
PS>This OpEd by NYT columnist Nicholas Kristof is a worthy read.