Sen. Feinstein is the senator who spoke about the real-life examples of women whose health was endangered by pregnancy, and what can and does happen when the law demands a 100 percent guarantee that a woman will die before she can obtain an abortion, or be covered under provisions as draconian as the one defeated yesterday, which would deny federal funding for any insurance policy that includes abortion as a covered procedure, even if the woman pays for the abortion herself. Here is that part of her remarks, from her official web page:
This amendment would place an unprecedented restriction on a woman’s right to use her own money to purchase health care coverage that would cover abortions.
Let me give you one example.
My staff met with a bright, young, married attorney who works for the federal government. She and her husband desperately wanted to start a family, and were overjoyed to learn she was pregnant. Subsequently, she learned that the baby she was carrying had anencephaly, a birth defect whereby the majority of the brain does not develop. She was told the baby could not survive outside of the womb.
She ended the pregnancy, but received a bill nearly $9,000. Because she is employed by the federal government, her insurance policy would not cover the procedure.
Her physician argued that continuing the pregnancy could have resulted in “dysfunctional labor and postpartum hemorrhage, which can increase the risk for the mother.” The physician also warned that the complications could be “life threatening.”
However, the Office of Personnel Management found that this circumstance did not meet the narrow exceptions that a woman’s life, not her health, put her in danger.
The patient was told, “The fetal anomaly presented no medical danger to you,” despite the admonitions of her physician. The best she could do is to negotiate the cost down to $5,000.
A woman’s pregnancy may also exacerbate a health condition that was previously under control. Or a woman may receive a new diagnosis in the middle of her pregnancy. It happens, Mr. President.
If this amendment passes, women in these circumstances would also learn that their insurance does not cover an abortion.
In some cases, it may be unclear whether the woman’s health problem meets the strict definition of “life endangerment.”
The National Abortion Federation has compiled calls that they receive on their hotline, which is available to women who need assistance obtaining abortion care.
Let me give you a few examples (the names have been changed):
* Molly was having kidney problems and was in a great deal of pain. She could not go to work, and could not provide for her two children. When she became pregnant, she made the decision to terminate the pregnancy in order to have her kidney removed to begin her recovery. She knew carrying the pregnancy would create additional health problems, and would leave her unable to provide for her family.
* Jamie already had severe health problems when she learned she was pregnant. She was a severe diabetic and her low blood sugar levels caused her to suffer from seizures. She was unable to continue her pregnancy but had difficulty affording the procedure.
* Another, Holly, was suffering from a serious liver illness when she became pregnant. Doctors were unsure of the cause, but she was in a great deal of pain. She already had two children, who she could not care for because of this pain. The tests and medications she needed to address her medical condition were incompatible with pregnancy.
None of these women were experiencing immediate threats to their lives. So under this amendment, their circumstances would not meet the narrow exceptions permitted for abortion coverage.
This is really a problem. How can one say we’re going to provide insurance but we don’t like one aspect of it, and we don’t want the government to pay for it. Okay, okay. But the woman herself can’t pay for it? That’s the extra step that this legislation takes.
To this day, it is still legal to have an abortion. Women in this situation don’t buy insurance for abortion, but they do buy a policy – married women – in case something happens in the third trimester. For example, if they find a baby is without a brain, she can have an abortion and it is covered.
One of the problems in this whole debate is that everyone sees something through their own lens. They don’t see the grief and trouble and morbidity that are out there, and the circumstances that drive a woman to decide — married — she has to terminate her pregnancy for very good medical reasons. Nobody considers that.
Today, Sen. Feinstein said this about the defeat of the Nelson-Hatch amendment:
This is the first thing we’ve won in years. … A majority saw it was not right to say that a woman could not pay for abortion or abortion coverage herself if her insurance company received any federal dollars.”
Among that majority, I am very glad to have seen just now, were Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins.