Counterpoint: Don't be misled — abortion has declined

  • Article by: SARAH STOESZ
  • Updated: May 8, 2014 - 7:08 PM

Allowing equal access via Medicaid has not increased the rate of the procedure in Minnesota, contrary to erroneous claims.

As stated in “What’s being done in your name: Abortion” (May 7), the Minnesota Supreme Court in Minnesota ruled in 1995 that state Medicaid dollars may be used for abortion. That’s because every woman — no matter what her income is or where she gets her health coverage — should be able make a personal medical decision about her pregnancy based on what is best for her health and her family. Period.

This is sensible policy. Many things can happen in pregnancy that are beyond a woman’s control. A woman facing an unintended or complicated pregnancy should not have to make the decision about whether or not to end her pregnancy based on whether she has enough money — it should be based on what is best for her health and her family’s circumstances. That’s why the Minnesota Supreme Court decided to ensure that all women in our state will have access to the reproductive health care they need, regardless of their financial situation.

Leaders of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, in a May 7 commentary, erroneously claimed that “public funding means more abortions.” The facts prove this is completely false. Minnesota has seen a 30 percent decrease in the abortion rate since the 1995 court ruling. Allowing women who rely on Medicaid the same rights and access as other women has not increased the abortion rate, and MCCL’s claims to the contrary show a blatant disregard for the facts.

In reality, the number of abortions in Minnesota has been steadily decreasing for decades. This is a fact that everyone, most of all Planned Parenthood, celebrates because it means the majority (95 percent) of our work — preventive care like birth control and annual exams — is successfully helping women plan their families and avoid unintended pregnancy in the first place.

MCCL also asserted that “limits on public funding mean fewer abortions,” and it shares a Guttmacher Institute statistic to support its claim. The plain truth is that, according to the Guttmacher Institute, while some women will choose to carry a pregnancy to term if their insurance doesn’t cover abortion, the majority of women will eventually obtain one — but they will be delayed and essentially be forced to get that abortion later in pregnancy.

It isn’t enough just to keep abortion legal — we have to make sure every woman has access to it, if and when she needs to consider it. And, while many have mixed feelings about abortion restrictions, the vast majority of people — in our state and our country — do not want to see politicians interfering with people’s personal medical decisions.

Even if we disagree about abortion, a woman’s health and safety should come first, regardless of how she receives her health insurance. If we ban abortion coverage, we take away a woman’s options for care — and we limit her ability to make the best decision for herself and her family. The decision about whether to choose adoption, end a pregnancy or raise a child is a woman’s to make with her family, her faith and her doctor. It’s not a decision for politicians or for our state government.

 

Sarah Stoesz is president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota South Dakota.

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