Would universal health care lower the abortion rate?

Catholic journalist T. J. Reid makes a challenging connection for us pro-lifers:

Increasing health-care coverage is one of the most powerful tools for reducing the number of abortions — a fact proved by years of experience in other industrialized nations. All the other advanced, free-market democracies provide health-care coverage for everybody. And all of them have lower rates of abortion than does the United States.

This is not a coincidence. There’s a direct connection between greater health coverage and lower abortion rates. To oppose expanded coverage in the name of restricting abortion gets things exactly backward. It’s like saying you won’t fix the broken furnace in a schoolhouse because you're against pneumonia. Nonsense! Fixing the furnace will reduce the rate of pneumonia. In the same way, expanding health-care coverage will reduce the rate of abortion.

At least, that’s the lesson from every other rich democracy.

The latest United Nations comparative statistics, available at http://data.un.org, demonstrate the point clearly. The U.N. data measure the number of abortions for women ages 15 to 44. They show that Canada, for example, has 15.2 abortions per 1,000 women; Denmark, 14.3; Germany, 7.8; Japan, 12.3; Britain, 17.0; and the United States, 20.8. When it comes to abortion rates in the developed world, we’re No. 1.

No one could argue that Germans, Japanese, Brits or Canadians have more respect for life or deeper religious convictions than Americans do. So why do they have fewer abortions?

One key reason seems to be that all those countries provide health care for everybody at a reasonable cost. That has a profound effect on women contemplating what to do about an unwanted pregnancy.

via T.R. Reid – Universal health care tends to cut the abortion rate – washingtonpost.com.

How would you answer this?   If you don’t accept this explanation, how would you account for the USA having the highest abortion rate?   If the connection the author posits is real, shouldn’t pro-lifers support some version of universal health care, even it means sacrificing some of our lesser principles?

UPDATE: Michael New answers the article.

Destroying the Senate

The “Christian Science Monitor,” not a conservative publication, has a piece by Mark Sappenfield entitled Reconciliation: why healthcare reform ‘nuclear option’ is deadly. It discusses the tactic of evading the filibuster rules so as to pass the Health Care Reform bill with a bare majority, rather than needing 60 votes. The author is referring to a “Face the Nation” appearance by centrist Republican Lindsey Graham and centrist Democrat Evan Bayh:

To many senators, including Graham, these procedures are not roadblocks to effective governance, they are the building blocks of it. The Senate is generally the last word in American legislative politics partly because it is seen as being more collegial and collaborative than its congressional cousin – and these seemingly arcane rules are the reason it is so, some would argue.

What is the significance of requiring a bill to win 60 votes or face a filibuster, after all? It is, at least on one level, an inducement to find compromise – to cross the aisle, to build coalitions.

To Graham, using reconciliation to pass healthcare reform circumvents the very mandate for consensus-building that makes the Senate unique.

Of course, reconciliation has been used before by both parties. But Graham noted that other cases involved at least some cross-party consensus. In this case, not a single Senate Republican voted for the healthcare reform bill.

If Senate Democrats used reconciliation to make changes to their healthcare bill, Republicans would pull out every stop to bring work in the Senate to a halt between now and the November elections, both Graham and Senator Bayh conceded.


I love analogies.  Here is one from Charles Krauthammer on a conundrum in the health care reform bill:

Obama was reduced to suggesting that his health-care reform was indeed popular because when you ask people about individual items (for example, eliminating exclusions for preexisting conditions or capping individual out-of-pocket payments), they are in favor.

Yet mystifyingly they oppose the whole package. How can that be?

Allow me to demystify. Imagine a bill granting every American a free federally delivered ice cream every Sunday morning. Provision 2: steak on Monday, also home delivered. Provision 3: a dozen red roses every Tuesday. You get the idea. Would each individual provision be popular in the polls? Of course.

However (life is a vale of howevers) suppose these provisions were bundled into a bill that also spelled out how the goodies are to be paid for and managed — say, half a trillion dollars in new taxes, half a trillion in Medicare cuts (cuts not to keep Medicare solvent but to pay for the ice cream, steak and flowers), 118 new boards and commissions to administer the bounty-giving, and government regulation dictating, for example, how your steak is to be cooked. How do you think this would poll?

Perhaps something like 3 to 1 against, which is what the latest CNN poll shows is the citizenry’s feeling about the current Democratic health-care bills.

What are some other analogies that might help us understand current issues?

(This is not a thread about the health care bill, as such. Challenge the aptness of Krauthammer’s analogy, if you wish, but what I’d like to see are more analogies.)

Democrat pro-lifers taking a stand

Not all pro-lifers are Republicans and not all pro-lifers are conservatives.  Twelve pro-life DEMOCRATS in Congress are stepping up.  They say they are willing to kill the health care bill if it would fund abortions.

A dozen House of Representatives Democrats opposed to abortion are willing to kill President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform plan unless it satisfies their demand for language barring the procedure, Representative Bart Stupak said on Thursday.

“Yes. We’re prepared to take responsibility,” Stupak said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” when asked if he and his 11 Democratic allies were willing to accept the consequences for bringing down healthcare reform over abortion.

“Let’;s face it. I want to see healthcare. But we’re not going to bypass the principles of belief that we feel strongly about,” he said.

via UPDATE 2-US Democrats would kill healthcare over abortion | Reuters.

Health care summit

So, did anyone watch the health care summit? I didn’t, being hard at work. If any of you did, please report.

How the Beatles increased health care costs

I am greatly intrigued by unintended consequences, odd connections, and strangely related events.  In a book about health care, Thomas Goetz explains how the Beatles were to blame for our rising health care costs.  Back in 1955, a small electronics company named EMI bought Capitol Records, which in 1966 signed a new British group called the Beatles.  EMI made so much money from the Beatles that they hardly knew what to do with it.  What they did was to invest it in some experimental medical technology that developed into the CT-scan, which could give 3-D X-rays.  This, in turn, led to other devices, such as MRIs and PET-scans.

While most technology, such as DVD players and computers, gets cheaper as it develops and gets better, for reasons that Mr. Goetz tries to explain, these medical devices keep getting MORE expensive.  In 1974, a CT-scan rig cost in the $300,000s.  Now it costs upwards of $2.2 million.  And doctors have been ordering super-expensive tests with these machines at a sky-rocketing rate. According to Mr. Goetz, this is a big reason health care costs have gone up so much.

So the next time your health insurance rates jump up, or you have to pay out of pocket for one of those tests that your insurance doesn’t cover completely, blame  John, Paul, George, and Ringo.

From success of the Fab Four, a key driver of health-care costs arose – washingtonpost.com.

Do you know any similar examples of strange series of causation?