Obamacare: The Pro-Choice Hypocrisy

Obamacare: The Pro-Choice Hypocrisy January 27, 2014

The pro-abortion and right-to-choose segment of our society has all but co-opted the term “Women’s Choice” to be defined as the right to terminate a pregnancy: the right to end a life. Let me say by way of full disclosure that in 1974 I had an abortion. I wrote all about that in ‘After the Flag has been Folded.’ Thus, one might assume that I align myself somewhere between the pro-abortion and right-to-choose groups; anything else would be hypocritical of me, right? I’ll leave that up to you to decide.

Time, abortion clinic bombings and an onslaught of legal cases has taught us that the discussion over Women’s Choice was not decided once and for all in Roe v. Wade. And now along comes Obamacare contributing to the oftentimes vitriolic discussion.

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee caused a ruckus recently when he suggested that Democrats are holding women hostage to their libidos. And Dr. David Green, CEO of the nationwide chain Hobby Lobby has turned to the courts to determine how far-reaching the feds may be allowed when pressing private industry to comply with Obamacare, even when it means violating the company’s religious beliefs. Green explained his family’s position in a column published in 2012 in USAToday:

 A new government health care mandate says that our family business must provide what I believe are abortion-causing drugs as part of our health insurance. Being Christians, we don’t pay for drugs that might cause abortions. Which means that we don’t cover emergency contraception, the morning-after pill or the week-after pill. We believe doing so might end a life after the moment of conception, something that is contrary to our most important beliefs. It goes against the biblical principles on which we have run this company since day one. If we refuse to comply, we could face $1.3 million per day in government fines.

The pro-abortion and pro-choice contingent is rankled by Green’s position, by Huckabee’s remarks and by almost anyone or anything else challenging a woman’s right to choose.

Nobody it seems, not the pro-choice contingent, not the pro-abortion component, not even the pro-lifers have zeroed in on a glaring flaw inherent in Obamacare. Where is the right for a woman to choose to have a baby? Where is coverage for the infertile woman who wants desperately to have a child? Where do the rights of infertile women come into play?

Currently, only 15 states nationwide require insurance coverage for infertility treatment. Most insurance companies do not cover any of the procedures to determine why a couple cannot conceive, nor do they cover any of the fixes to that problem.

In other words, a woman’s right to choose is only worth fighting for when her right is to terminate a pregnancy. When it comes to the creation of new life, few if any are willing to go to bat on behalf of the infertile couple.

Infertile couples are left out in the wild to fend for themselves, cut off from a society who fails to recognize their inability to conceive as a legitimate medical problem, even though resolutions often requires extensive medical intervention.

Expensive medical intervention.

Oh, I know what you are thinking, infertile couples should just adopt. There are plenty of kids in need out there. What you may not be aware of are both the prohibitive state regulations and expenses involved in all that, too. And, no, medical insurance does not cover an infertile couple’s attempts at adoption.

The infertile couple without financial resources is left with little choice. Infertile women all over this county lack a right to choose because of money. The very same argument the pro-choice and pro-abortion groups tout as the reason why Obamacare needs to provide for abortions and abortion-inducing drugs. Ironically, the costs for abortions or abortifacients are a fraction of the cost of most fertility diagnoses and treatment. Yet, it seems the Right-to- Choose forces are only on one side of the financial hardship hurdle: termination assistance.

The infertile couple is expected to refinance their home, jack up their credit cards, take out a baby loan, sponsor a Kick-starter campaign, get a second or third job, all in an effort to have a shot at becoming parents.

Infertility is not an inconvenience – it is a disease of the reproductive system. Just like kidney disease or diabetes. An estimated 7.3 million women and their mates suffer from the disease of infertility: about 12 percent of the reproductive-age population, according to the Center for Disease Control. And, yet, under Obamacare those millions of the voting infertile public are simply ignored. Obamacare doesn’t specifically address infertility and it doesn’t require health insurance plans to cover treatment, says Sean Tipton, director of public affairs for the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. “The Affordable Care Act is completely silent on infertility,” Tipton says.

In other words, Obama, and all those vehemently defending a woman’s right to choose, do so only when that choice is about ending life, not creating it.

That’s the height of hypocrisy if you ask me.

Karen Spears Zacharias is the author of Mother of Rain (Mercer Univ. Press). For more information find her at karenzach.com or on Twitter @karenzach.

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  • Nathaniel

    If you’d done some research, you’d find there are perfectly good reasons infertility treatments aren’t universally covered:

    1. As you mentioned, the costs of common infertility treatments are in the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars. In contrast, contraception essentially pays for itself, as it is much cheaper to cover than pregnancy is. That is reversed for infertility treatments, as if they are successful that is only the beginning of costs for the insurance company.

    2. Infertility, while it can be psychologically distressing or even devastating, doesn’t represent a threat medically. In contrast, pregnancy is a medical condition with potentially hundreds of side effects that kills women and injures thousands every single year, sometimes injures that have permanent effects.

    In short, while you may think that infertility treatments should get more coverage, this is an issue that has nothing to do with contraception coverage.

    • Nathaniel: If the dialysis patient gets a new kidney chances are they will live longer and require further healthcare, thus, adding to the financial burden of the healthcare industry.
      If the man who has a heart attack manages to survive and doesn’t quit his smoking, chances are he is going to continue to be a burden financially to the insurance company.
      If the soldier survives the bombing but loses both legs chances are she’s going to be a burden to the healthcare system.
      So, using your reasoning, I suppose we should deny them all coverage because in the long run it’s just going to cost too much.
      Infertility is a disease, not an inconvenience. It is not accurate to say that we support right to choose when the only right to choose that the voting public concerns itself with is the right to terminate a pregnancy. This has everything to do with contraceptive coverage & Obamacare.

      • Nathaniel

        The difference between infertility and losing one’s legs are pretty obvious, in terms of the degree of disability and physical harm to the person.

        And as for your heart attack example, if the person continued smoking their insurance company would likely charge them more, given their heightened health risk. Given the health risks of fertility treatments, would you be fine with people getting coverage only if they were willing to pay extra for a special fertility treatment rider?

        • If Obamacare is going to mandate riders for people who are overweight, smokers, drug addicts, HIV, AIDs and other diseases then, yes, of course I’d expect one for the infertile. However, as it stands now Obamacare does not put that into practice for other diseases and does not provide any coverage for the millions suffering from infertility.

  • Sven2547

    There is no such thing as a “pro-abortion” segment in American politics. The reason they call it “pro-choice” is because they also support, not oppose, women who choose to not have an abortion. It really is as simple as that.

    It’s hard to take someone seriously on a contentious subject when they know so little about the other side of the debate.

    • How well do you know the history of the debate? Of course there is a pro-abortion segment of society. Women deemed mentally ill or not fit to be a parent were at one time forced to undergo abortions, then sterilizations.

      • Nathaniel

        And once black people were slaves. So please identify the pro-slavery contingent of our politics.

        • How about you stick to the issue at hand…

          • Levedi

            Nathaniel called you on your use of a false analogy. Ducking isn’t going to make your assertions any more logical or factual. It’s really offensive to me that someone who teaches journalism would use so many logical fallacies and be so careless with facts as you are being in your article and your responses to commenters.

          • And I’m offended by Nathaniel’s reference to slavery in a blog post regarding infertility. The only ducking going on here is in the insurance companies and an administration that is acting as their broker.

          • Sven2547

            How about you stick to the issue at hand…

            Given that the issue at hand is not the historical treatment of mentally-ill women…

  • Lisa

    There is a major flaw in your reasoning. Infertility treatments are wildly inconsistent with most “pro-life” positions. Particularly IVF, which creates embryos that will be unused and thrown away. If you are really “pro-life” then perhaps you should advocate for the financial support of children after they are infants as well as subsidized adoption programs.

    • Lisa: Stick around this blog or do some exploring about my and my writing and I think you might find that your assumptions about me are not well-founded. I didn’ t say I was pro-life. I didn’t say what my position on the issue was at all. I said I’d leave it up to you all to fight it out. My concern is that it is simply hypocritical to claim to be pro-choice and not take into consideration or go to bat for the woman struggling with infertility. Everyone in this argument just assumes that the infertile woman simply ought to suffer in silence, because it is either too expensive to pursue fertility. Yet, if she wanted to terminate a pregnancy, then and only then does it become a matter for public debate and concern. Ridiculous.

      • Sven2547

        I didn’ t say I was pro-life.

        Well you called everyone who’s pro-choice a hypocrite. Come on now.

        My concern is that it is simply hypocritical to claim to be pro-choice and not take into consideration or go to bat for the woman struggling with infertility.

        What makes you think the pro-choice camp is against covering infertility treatments? Because it’s not in the ACA? The ACA is a compromise-riddled piece of legislation. Fact is, most pro-choice folk are FOR most infertility treatments such as IVF, and its main source of opposition is Christian conservatives.

        • If the pro-choice contingent are for infertility treatments, they sure have been mute about their position on the inequities of not providing coverage for fertility treatment

          • Sven2547

            Because they know it’s no good; there are too many Republicans in Congress. Sort of like how they’ve given up on the Public Option too (for now).

            Aside from you, I haven’t heard anyone in the “pro-life” camp complain about a lack of IVF mandate. Why is that?

          • You make the assumption I belong to a “pro-life’ camp. You don’t have enough information to make that assumption. But as to your allegations about this being a GOP problem, actually, I don’t think either the GOP or Democrats can take the moral high ground here since neither of them have fought to provide coverage for the infertile.

          • Sven2547

            You make the assumption I belong to a “pro-life’ camp. You don’t have enough information to make that assumption.

            For the second time now: you called all pro-choice folks hypocrites in this very piece. I assume you’re not putting yourself in that category too.

          • It is hypocritical to consider oneself pro-choice when the only financial choice being offered is termination and not the creation of life. Whatever choice one is advocating for is certainly a very limited choice under OC. So you assume that I would not hold my own self accountable on this issue?

  • axelbeingcivil

    I have a thousand answers as to why I wouldn’t call it hypocritical but, as someone who lives in a country with socialized medicine and loves it, I do agree with your assessment that infertility is a problem that should be treated as such.

    Unwanted infertility is a problem, just as much as unwanted fertility is; just as much as a weak heart or a dysfunctional pancreas is. A human being who lacks the full range of capacities of a normal human being for their age and sex is someone whom we should help.

    I most vehemently disagree with you that people advocating for contraception access are being hypocrites, but I agree that this is an issue worth addressing. My suggestion is burning the current system to ash and starting anew with a proper public health option; one that treats people’s problems with an aim to solving them, not gambling on them to earn a bigger profit margin.

    • I did not call people advocating for contraception access hypocrites. What I said was that it is hypocritical to claim to be all about a woman’s choice when the only choice one is address is the right to terminate, not create a life.
      And yes, I would agree that burning the current system to ash and starting anew with a proper public health option would be beneficial. Not likely to happen but the system we have now is inherently flawed.

  • Y. A. Warren

    Spoken like a true over-zealous convert to a “truth” that you found inconvenient when it applied to your own situation.

    • Y.A. Warren: If you would like to discuss the issue, which is the flaw in Obamacare failing to provide treatment for a disease that afflicts 7 million voting citizens, feel free. As to your personal attacks on me, any conversion I had occurred before Roe v. Wade was ever enacted. Assume much?

      • Y. A. Warren

        I was not attacking you. I was simply making an observation about how many of those who judge the actions of others become so zealous in their opinions.

        • Warren: I’m pretty sure that was an attack but suit yourself. My opinions about this issue have nothing to do with my experience with this issue (the abortion I had was paid for by my mother’s insurance company which just so happened to a government-funded one). My opinion about this matter has to do with the juxtaposition that unduly affects 7 million women. Women who vote. Women who are being ignored by the rest of the voting public because frankly we just don’t consider infertility a disease. Until we are the ones suffering from it…

          • Y. A. Warren

            Infertility is no more a disease than age-related erectile dysfunction. They are simply inconvenient.

          • Warren: Erectile dysfunction is covered. But you need to educate yourself about the disease of infertility.

          • Y. A. Warren

            There is no disease called “infertility” though there are many diseases that have this as a symptom. I am opposed to labeling every inconvenience a disease, probably none more than the inconveniences of erectile dysfunction and infertility.

            What is next that healthcare will cover gender changing and breast enhancement surgeries. Where does the BS end?

          • FYI: Tri-Care, the nation’s insurance for military families already covers breast enhancement surgeries, as do many private insurers..

            RE: your erroneous statement that infertility isn’t a disease: This from the National Infertility Associations: Infertility is a disease of the reproductive system. One third (30%) of infertility can be attributed to male factors, and about one third (30%) can be attributed to female factors. In about 20% of cases infertility is unexplained, and the remaining 10% of infertility is caused by a combination of problems in both partners.

            The CDC considers it a disease as well.

            Just because I don’t happen to have diabetes doesn’t make diabetes any less of a disease. Just because diabetes is often the result of a poor lifestyle doesn’t make diabetes any less of a disease.

            Your politics do not determine what is a disease.

          • Y. A. Warren

            “This from the National Infertility Associations” Do you know anything about conflict of interest?

          • I know that those who struggle with diabetes are often the most well-informed about the disease. Much more than the general public.

            I know that most advocacy groups dealing with breast cancer are run by women, those with the most experience of dealing with breast cancer. Those with the greatest stake in finding a cure.

            I know that if you want to find the best, most relevant information on any disease you should start with the advocacy groups that seek to education an uneducated public about such diseases.

            I certainly wouldn’t turn to Huckabee as a source of information about infertility.

  • Many Christians have moral problems with fertility treatments, e.g., IVF, too.

    “IVF poses grave ethical problems…”

    Souls on Ice: The costs of in vitro fertilization are moral and spiritual—not just financial (Christianity Today Editorial)

    “The many techniques now used to overcome infertility also have profound moral implications…”

    Begotten Not Made: A Catholic View of Reproductive Technology
    United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

    Who were you blaming?

  • Levedi

    This argument is based on a straw man – a deceptive misrepresentation of the opposition’s real position. Lots of feminists have argued publicly and forcefully that reproductive technologies, maternity care, prenatal care, support for families, etc should be much more widely available. For heaven’s sake, read some recent history – we wouldn’t have maternity leave or parental leave without feminism’s defense of it. Getting pregnant while employed used to be called getting fired. It wasn’t Phyllis Schlafly who said that a woman should have the option to be a mother and express her other talents/desires as well. The homeschooling movement would never have gotten the traction it did without second wave feminism defending it. I know – I was there for it as one of the earliest families in our state to homeschool. We cannot have an honest discussion about abortion in this country if the voices of the pro-life movement keep telling lies about the opposition. As a pro-life, Christian feminist, I am find it inexcusable that this article chops logic and ignores facts so badly.

    • There i s no “chopping” of logic.Please feel free to send me the articles on the outcries of feminist re: Obamacare failing to provide for fertility treatment.

  • guest

    In Britain, both abortion and the first round of infertility treatment are free on the NHS.
    This would be possible in America as well, if only the public would realise that a free public healthcare model like the European ones would actually save them money and provide more people with coverage. American healthcare is some of the most expensive in the world.
    I’m pretty sure Jesus never charged anyone for healing or asked them to take out insurance first. Nor did he tell his disciplines to.
    For what it’s worth, I agree with your article; infertile couples should be covered by insurance too. But, don’t forget, there is a better way.

    • Yes. It is entirely possible and feasible to cover infertility. The problem is that as represented here in these comments, the voting public does not regard infertility as anything more than an inconvenience – until of course it afflicts them. Diabetes is often the result of lifestyle choices and yet we regard dialysis as a medical treatment that ought to be covered. Infertility often cannot be resolved without medical intervention and yet we tell those millions their health issues do not matter because it is really just an inconvenience. Should one of Obama’s daughters end up struggling with infertility, I bet he’s going to wish he had thought to include it as an allowable coverage.

  • ThisIsTheEnd

    I’m completely confused as to the supposed link between Pro-choice hypocrisy and Obamacare not covering fertility treatments. And judging by the comments, it would seem everybody else is as well.

    The interesting question is whether one can be anti-abortion and support fertility treatments. That’s where any potential hypocrisy may lie.

    • The flaw in Obamacare – or at least one major flaw – is that it wants to mandate termination as part of “choice” but not fertility as a part of “choice”. Pretty much negates “choice” when you only underwrite one position. Regarding comprehension skills, that’s a topic for another post.

      • ThisIsTheEnd

        My reading comprehension is fine.

        It’s interesting that you highlighted the word “choice”. So because pro-choice has “choice” in the title and fertility isn’t a “choice” provided by the OC then that’s hypocrisy?

        I think life (if you’d pardon the pun) is a bit more complicated then that.

        • How can it be choice if all the choices are one-sided?

          • ThisIsTheEnd

            Indeed. But isn’t that normal politics? Politics is about the art of the achievable. If people want fertility treatment covered they should make their voices heard. I’m sure they’d be supported by pro-choice advocates. The opposition would probably come from the anti-abortion crowd.

            I’m British so fertility treatment is covered by NHS (I think you get one shot at it) as is abortion. Maybe you should be devoting your efforts towards Universal Healthcare…

          • I’m British at heart. 🙂 I am not convinced that either side would act as advocates for infertile couples. I see no evidence of that thus far. Making one’s voice heard in a culture that is shouting at each other all the time is hard to do, especially when one’s energy is consumed with the trials of infertility. (Not something I have ever struggled with personally but something about which I have educated myself about).

  • YesDavisIsMyFirstName

    Sry, directed here from the front page, but I don’t see how the issues are in any way related. ‘Pro-Choice’ is a position exclusively related to the availability of abortion, just as ‘Pro-Life’ is associated exclusively with the effort to make abortion illegal. It is no more of a hypocrisy for Pro-Choice activists to not focus on infertility than it is for a ‘Pro-life’ activist to advocate for the death penalty. Unfortunately the terms don’t particularly help themselves. If semantics weren’t such an issue for most people I would ask everyone to label their positions clearly from the start. Pro-Legal-Abortion and Anti-Legal-Abortion.
    Obamacare is a health care policy which doesn’t deal in any way with the legality of abortion. It mandates coverage for contraception as well as a large variety of other health care concerns. It doesn’t make the one particular health care concern you care about illegal or non-covered anywhere. I wouldn’t see a problem with mandating the coverage, just as I would prefer all medical expenses covered through a single payer system. But since we aren’t talking about a single payer all inclusive system, I would expect for some loopholes.

    • I agree that part of the issue is the semantics involved. Pro-choice, as you have mentioned, isn’t really about choice. It’s about a specific limited choice. But it is aimed at women and reproduction issues, and as such, it is perfectly legitimate to question the veracity of the term & the movement, which thus far has excluded a pretty significant number of women. Why mandate for coverage to terminate pregnancy and not mandate for coverage to ensure pregnancy – if that is a woman’s choice? To shrug one’s shoulders and call it a loophole is to be dismissive of a population that lives in the shadows of society already.

      • Fallulah

        Pro-Choice is just that…the woman’s right to choose. We support a woman’s right to choose to have a baby, seek fertility treatment, take birth control, have abortions. ALL the choices. I don’t know where you got that we only support abortions.

        • From the myriad of articles in which pro-choicers vehemently demand the right to abortions and the lack of any such evidence of pro-choicers (or pro-lifers) calling for equality/choice when it comes to infertility.

          • YesDavisIsMyFirstName

            Context. No one is trying to take away the right to get fertility treatment. There are those trying to make abortion illegal. And no there is no mandate for coverage to terminate a pregnancy. Contraception is preventative and is in no way abortion. You’d have to go to Israel to have free abortions provided by the Gov.

          • By the same token, those who call themselves “choicers” are not litigating for the right for the infertile woman to have a choice, either. No it’s not illegal to seek fertility treatment or adoption. It is just prohibitively expensive and fraught with bureaucracy and, in the case of infertility treatment, too much exploitation. It is misleading to suggest contraceptives are in no way abortion. Some contraceptives are abortion-inducing and yes, those are typically covered by insurance and most certainly covered by Obamacare. All I’m suggesting is that to be defined as a pro-choicers or a pro-lifer then a person must be compelled to advocate for insurance coverage under Obamacare for fertility treatment and/or adoption.

          • YesDavisIsMyFirstName

            But the issue of infertility is NOT about pro-choice or pro-life. its about being pro-fertility treatment options. Yes pro-choicers could do well to expand their purposes to agenda to address those issues as the semantics of the “Pro-Choice” title could include it. But I would argue it would be difficult to shift scope when the constitutional law is constantly being attacked, and attempts are consistently being made to make contraceptives and abortion illegal. Side note. Do you think that contraception should NOT be covered?

            The Reason I posted in the first place was due to the fact that you accused pro-choicers of being hypocrites for not championing an issue you seem to be passionate about. On a good day I like to think I’m pro-human, and take pride in the fact that I advocate as often as possible for any cause which I think would make human life better, whether it be marriage equality or the rights and autonomy of Native Americans, reasonable minimum wage increases, or universal health care coverage. I’m just confused by the particular effort you have put in to disparage the character of pro-choicers for not expanding their agenda to include something not within their charter.

            A contraceptive is not an abortifacient, by its very definition. And if you are referring to drugs which prevent uterine wall implantation, I understand, but please recognize that, the body naturally doesn’t allow uterine wall implantation 50% of the time and those drugs just mirror that process.

          • Hobby-Lobby’s concern is aimed at providing drugs that prevent implantation so while contraceptives, like the terms pro-choice and pro-life, don’t adequately cover the meaning, generally speaking the public considers such anti-implantation meds as contraceptives. And certainly under Obamacare and most health insurance plans they are considered contraceptives.

            And, yes, it is quite obvious that the concern about infertility isn’t an issue for pro-choicers and pro-lifers. Thus my point that it is hypocritical. Anti-abortionist and pro-abortionist is the much more accurate terminology as long as you are going to ignore 7 million women. As I stated, the term choice has been co-opted and relegates the infertile to the back of the bus, so to speak.

      • YesDavisIsMyFirstName

        I stated that I would prefer it be covered. I also said I prefer that everything should be covered under a single party system. My point was not that infertility treatment shouldn’t be covered, or that you advocating for it is in any way invalid. But expecting pro-choice groups to advocate for it when their goals are different is misplaced. It would be completely unfair of me to expect a ‘Pro-Life’ advocate to be vegans or pro-animal rights simply because a position of that sort would be consistent with the term Pro-Life. The only case where accusation of hypocrisy would be valid would be if a ‘Pro-Choice’ activist said they were pro-legal-abortion and then voted consistently to make it illegal.
        It appears from the comments I’ve read (other than from that ‘Inconvenience’ person) that most of us agree with you wholeheartedly that infertility is an issue (although one which not many of us appear to have advocated to remedy). But we have all been quick to point out that the post you wrote seems to disparage Obamacare and then prochoice activists (for no real reason) for not addressing or solving every medical issue.

        • I am not calling for Obamacare to address every single medical problem. I am saying that it is hypocritical of Obamacare to mandate that abortion-inducing drugs be covered as a woman’s right, yet, conveniently overlooking the right of infertile women who can’t afford infertility treatment or adoption, both of which are far more expensive than $20 worth of birth control. Or the $500 abortion. It is also misleading semantically to call oneself pro-choice when the only choice one is advocating for is termination of a pregnancy, not the creation of life. It is just as hypocritical of the pro-life, btw, from a semantics standpoint. You can’t be pro-choice if you completely ignore and fail to use your collective voice to advocate equally for the infertile woman as you do for the pregnant woman. And you can’t be pro-life if you don’t advocate for the rights of the infertile woman to have a baby as loudly as your protest the rights of a woman to terminate a pregnancy. It simply is semantically inaccurate. What you may be is pro-abortion or anti-abortion. But you are only pro-choice or pro-life if your concern reaches to the shadows where 7 million women of voting age are silently praying for the choice to be a mom.

          • YesDavisIsMyFirstName

            You can’t define someone else by a term they choose to identify with. If I say I’m pro-choice, then I’m pro choice. If I said I was pro-life, I’d be pro-life. You identify as a Christian correct? If I thought your hermeneutic, or politics, or biblical exegesis were not consistent with my view of what a Christian ‘should’ be, would that mean you aren’t a Christian? Language would be impossibly difficult if I had to completely contain all my philosophies, passions and political positions into a title. I’d be a pro-legal-abortion-pro-consumer-choice-atheist-pro-fertility-pro-agnositic-anti-racist-pro-marriage-equality-pro-universal-healthcare-anti-abortion-pro-contraceptive-pro-accurate-sex education-pro-legal-marijuana-anti-drug-use-etc. etc. etc.
            By your all inclusive semantic standard, if I was anti-legal drugs- I couldn’t be pro-choice since that would mean I was inhibiting someone’s choice. By the way, thanks for engaging me, I don’t usually get the opportunity to engage the author. apologies for any snark, I do mean well 😉

          • I could call myself a unicorn but that wouldn’t make it so. And authors aren’t at all like unicorns. We are more like mothers and sisters, friends and neighbors.

  • Fallulah

    You pro-lifers tell pregnant women who don’t want their children, not to get abortions but to put them up for adoption. So you should be pushing for these infertile women to ADOPT these babies. Just goes to show, you pro-lifers aren’t pro-life at all, just PRO-BIRTH. After the baby is born…it’s on its own.

    • Fullulah: “You pro-lifers”? Exactly who are you directing your remarks toward? And your comment just reveals how very little you understand the problem of infertility, and the challenges that infertile couples face, both in trying to conceive or trying to adopt. This sort of ignorance is exactly why so few advocate for insurance for infertility.

      • Fallulah

        YOU I am directing my comment at YOU, the person who wrote this blog and others like you who call themselves “pro-life”. I didn’t think that was a difficult concept to grasp. And NO I wouldn’t advocate for fertility treatment cuz the world is already over-populated and there are too many children without a home already lost in foster care. You can call me ignorant all you want, but you’re the one not looking at the entire picture!

        • But I didn’t. I didn’t call myself pro-life. You did.

          • Fallulah

            Are you not pro-life? You insinuate it all over the place.

          • What in the above post insinuates that I am? I am calling into question a concern that I have about pro-lifers, pro-choicers and abortion advocates.

    • Lynn

      For the love of… don’t tell thrm to push women to relinquish their babies. They already do that and it causes serious hurt. I listened to the prolifers and gave my baby up for adoption and regret it to this day. They don’t need encouragement for their coercive tactics. Can we please just leave the abortion disvussion AS an abortion discussion without throwing those of us who’ve been hurt by adoption around like some kind of talking point?

      P.S. I’m pro-choice.

      • Lynn: Who is telling anyone to push women to relinquish babies? As to coercive tactics, I am pretty certain both sides are guilty of this. And dare I say it? Are you assuming that those who aborted haven’t been faced with hurt of a different sort?

        • Lynn

          Nope, I didn’t say anything about abortion except that I’m prochoice. I didn’t assume anything about the experiences of women who have abortions. All I did was ask you to NOT tell infertile prolifers to go out and adopt newborns as if the issue of adoption is simply a talking point. There are already way more people who want to adopt newborns than there are newborns available. This creates a supply and demand imbalance, which then encourages adoption agencies to pressure more pregnant women to give up their babies.

          • Lynn: How does the adoption agency recruit or pressure women into adoption unless they themselves contact the agency to begin with? There are no recruitment fairs for the pregnant. Our high schools in Oregon provide onsite daycare for young mothers. I have had experience with this both with friends and with family, so I know that adoption is sometimes the best option for everyone but I know of no programs that coerce or force a woman to adopt out a child. I know our foster care systems are full of children whose mothers are incapable of caring for them and yet they refuse to relinquish the child to a family who would love and care for them. So children are suspended as wards of the court. Never having a forever home. Only the empty promise of a mother or father who remain absent from their lives.

          • Unah

            You do have to recognize that in the past women have been coerced, and in some cases forced, to give up their babies. I even read about a case where an 80 year old nun was arrested for stealing babies from poor unwed mothers, and then sold the babies into adoption. This was a massive baby stealing ring that went on for decades, and involved doctors, nurses, priests, and others. Thank God, our society has evolved away from that practice. And I do give credit to Roe v Wade for that progress. But to deny that these things were common, at least at one time, is dishonest.

          • You credit Roe v Wade as the reason that nuns no longer steal babies from poor unwed mothers? I have no idea how any of this has anything to do with a post about insurance for infertility.

          • Unah

            I credit Roe v Wade in forcing our society to help unwed mothers keep their babies. They didn’t always have day cares in high schools so that young mothers could finish their educations. Before Roe v Wade they would kick pregnant teens out completely.

      • ginalex

        Lynn, I would like to know more about your experience if you are willing to tell me. If you want to, email me at ginalex40@yahoo.com. I was given up for adoption and want to know more about what the mother endures. If it’s too painful to talk about, I understand.

  • MrAtoZ

    You need not explain here, why you chose to terminate a pregnancy, back in 1974. I’ll take as a given that you had good reason.– as do others faced with needing to make this decision.

    But why should others be refused that option? Is Hobby Lobby such a small family run business that it’s entire staff are their own ‘True Christian’ Family members who are for themselves ‘pro-life’ — that is they would not choose abortion for themselves? — I think not.
    — Rather Hobby Lobby is run by a CEO who wants to skirt good health care for the company’s workers. — and using religion as an excuse.
    — What of women who need birth control medication for non ‘contraceptive’ reasons, such as medically necessary conditions ?
    — Should workers need to OK their medications with their employees ?? I think not.

    Pro-Choice activists are not assassinating BirthRight staff, or adoption lawyers, or shouting at women who adopt children. — By contrast, Pro-Life activists like Scott Roeder are murdering people in the name of ‘protecting life’

    • You can’t really consider yourself pro-choice if you do not advocate as loudly for the infertile woman as you do for the pregnant but doesn’t want to be, can you? By the same token, can you really consider yourself pro-life if you aren’t willing to advocate for the infertile woman who longs to be a mother?

      RE: Hobby-Lobby. You make an assumption that Dr. Green wants to skirt good healthcare for the company workers. What evidence do you have to support your presuppositions?

      • MrAtoZ

        Hobby Lobby is a corporation, not an individual raised with a religious upbringing. —

        If we allow a corporation like Hobby Lobby to deny certain medical care to it’s workers, then another company might claim the right to deny more serious health care needs.

        Should a company owned/run by Jewish CEOs demand that it’s lower level employees keep Kosher? Should a company owned by Jehovah’s witnesses demand that it’s health plans not cover Blood Transfusions? Should a company owned by Christian Scientists demand it’s health plan only cover Prayer ?

        The only reason Hobby Lobby’s suit is even being considered is because certain Christians have an air of Favouritism in this country.

        Dr Green wants the best of both worlds. – To not cover something he personally wouldn’t choose, to deny others that right, and not lose anything in the process. Some who have chosen to be ‘Tax Protesters’ because they felt our taxes went to things they opposed (ex: Quakers opposing wars) — Intentionally earned little to be free from owing taxes.

        As to ‘you can’t be “pro-life” unless’ that’s something of a straw-man – you can’t be ‘my definition of pro-life unless….’ — Pro-Life is a term invented by those who are opposed to legal abortions, because it sells better. — That said you need not be a loud advocate for the infertile necessarily. – though others have already pointed out the importance of good prenatal care, and other ‘women’s reproductive health’ issues. – You could for example be reforming the Adoption industry. — Improving the ability, serve as a pro-bono adoption lawyer. – etc. Working to do away with any stigma faced by the infertile, or those who Adopt.

        • But Corporations are people too. The Supreme Court has made it so. And as long as Obamacare does not mandate otherwise, the only choice involved here is the choice of corporate America to deny medical care to 7 million women and their spouses. Where’s the outcry against that? I don’t know Dr. Green. I’ve never had a discussion with him. I don’t know that he wants the best of both worlds. I don’t know that he expects favoritism because he is a Jesus-follower. But I do know that it is ludicrous to mandate that inexpensive birth control and abortions be covered by federal law while remaining silent about the cost of fertility treatment and/or adoption in this nation. Seems to me that pro-choice folks and pro-lifers do quite a bit of cherry-picking of their own when it comes to advocating for women’s rights. And I disagree that you need not be a loud advocate. The pro-choice and pro-life communities are the very definition of loud advocacy. Why would either be quiet about this issue, if at the core what they really truly care about is the woman and her health care?

  • Darian G. Burns

    Karen, I knew you were going to catch hell when I read this. Its reasoning is consistent and logic solid. However, it challenges the accepted orthodoxy of a certain view. You ask them to think. To stretch. Most people would rather follow. Thank you for this important contribution to the a debate that needs to be discussed. Also, I think it is hilarious that most of those leaving comments think your a radical pro-lifer attacking choice. I have read every book you have written and most of your columns (Since the stroke I have a lot of time on my hands) and I do not have any idea where you stand. I do remember you were attacked by a pro-lifer back during the election because you said you did not base your decision only on the issue.

    What bothers me the worse about the comments here is how people are so willing to quickly assume the worse and attack if you do or say anything outside the accepted box filled with its slogans, platitudes, and claims.

    Don’t you dare tell anyone where you stand on the abortion issue. Make them read, think and consider for themselves. Although that may bring more attacks your way.

  • AB

    I am pro-choice. I am also infertile. My choice to have a child with my husband was taken away because my insurance will not cover the fertility treatment recommended by my doctor. As a result I firmly believe insurance SHOULD cover both the choice not to have a child as well as the choice to have a child, and yes, I have personally advocated for insurance coverage for infertility, as has RESOLVE, the national infertility association, which also advocated for infertility coverage to be part of the ACA. I see no hypocrisy in that position, and I really, really RESENT you using people like me just to make what appears to be
    an anti-abortion point. Do you actually care about infertile couples? From what I’ve seen, it is actually “pro-lifers” who threaten access to infertility treatments with “personhood” acts and protests at fertility clinics. The staunchly “pro-life” Catholic church is also 100% against almost all infertility treatments and considers them a grave sin. It is generally politicians who claim to be “pro-life” who have also voted down state laws mandating infertility coverage – the only state which has a full infertility coverage mandate is Massachusetts. So really, if you are a “pro-life” person who cares one whit about our ability to choose to have children even when our rights are, as you admit, daily violated by insurance companies who REFUSE coverage for a legitimate disorder of the reproductive system, you would take ALL of this into account instead of just making a mockery of our pain.

    • Nobody is using you or your pain. I care a great deal about the issue of infertility and am in no way making a political statement for anything other than it is wrong to not provide insurance coverage for the infertile. This isn’t a statement for or against abortion. It is a statement that says don’t cry me a river over being pro-choice or pro-life if you aren’t going to advocate for the infertile while you are at it. I am not Catholic nor am I a spokesperson for the Catholic Church so whatever their position is, take it up with them, not me.

      • AB

        Well, then maybe we agree on more than I thought at first glance. One thing I have learned through my personal battle with infertility is that people on both sides of the abortion issue have varying opinions regarding insurance coverage for infertility treatment. I do wish the organizations that advocate for reproductive rights would recognize our rights also. That said, considering the positions of many in the pro-life movement regarding fertility treatment, in my view they are often advocating against people with infertility – even if it’s not their main focus, the policies they support are often in direct opposition to the rights of the infertile to even access the treatments that we pay for out of pocket, never mind insurance coverage.

        • AB: It is my humble observation that by and large the general public is ignorant about the challenges infertile couples face, both when it comes to fertility treatment and/or adoption. They are clueless about the prohibitive costs and lack of coverage. If you stopped ten people on the street and did a Jay Leno interview, I suspect most would assume that insurance covers fertility treatment. In fact, most insurance companies don’t cover even the most basic of blood tests if those test fall under the suspicion of infertility. Most have no idea that one IVF treatment can cost as much as an undergraduate degree at a state college. I am sure that many in the pro-life movement have concerns about fertility treatment but in my humble observation those concerns are again due to a lack of understanding about fertility and fertility treatments. With 7 million women and their spouses suffering from infertility, I think we ought to do a better job of educating the public on this issue. That’s where those who claim to be pro-choice, or those who claim to be pro-life, could really work together, and employ their collective voice on behalf of women like yourself.

          • AB

            I agree 100%.

  • Tom Wiley

    Well said!

  • ginalex

    I think that it’s interesting that you post how hard it is to have a baby for an infertile couple, but you dismiss outright how hard it is to adopt. Adoption is the best option for an infertile couple and the government does help out and there are programs out there to help out couples who want to adopt. Why do we need to go to all the trouble to bring in a new life to this world when we already have so many young lives who need homes? I hope infertile couples don’t take your advice to not adopt. The kids that are in foster homes would benefit.

    • Did you read the post or only the responses? Because the post does address the issue of adoption. But are you infertile? Because unless you have faced infertility yourself, I don’t think it is right for fertile couples to dictate that the answer to an infertile couple’s problem is adoption. Adoption is equally as expensive as infertility treatment. Kids in foster homes are often caught up in a system that grants their absentee parents control over their lives. They can’t be adopted because mom or dad refuse to allow them to be. In order to adopt that child, infertile couples have to hire lawyers and face a court battle where the absentee parent is provided lawyers by taxpayers. The absentee parent has more rights than the child does. And the infertile couple has to come up with the money for that fight. How many middle class families do you know that can afford a lengthy (sometimes years long) legal battle?

      • AB

        All of the above is absolutely correct, and I would like to add a few notes:
        I don’t know any infertile couples who haven’t considered adoption, and I include myself and my husband in that group. The adoption agency we spoke with quoted us approximately $30,000 for a domestic open infant adoption. Our IVF clinic, by contrast, charged about 12K per cycle. Although adoption is often touted as “a guarantee,” that is not the case. Birthparents always retain the option to change their minds (as they should) but a failed adoption can be especially heartbreaking. Adopting from foster care is an option also and it is definitely less costly, but it presents its own special challenges. The county social worker my husband and I spoke with pointed out two things: one is that the social services generally prefer to have experienced parents as foster parents due to the challenges many foster kids have dealt with in their lives. Obviously people struggling with primary infertility are not usually experienced parents. The second things she pointed out was that many foster placements do return to their parents eventually. The goal of the foster system is reunification. Foster parents have to be prepared to deal with that. Many infertile couples have already dealt with multiple pregnancy losses, etc. and it can be extremely difficult to deal with yet another loss after that.
        Adoption can be a wonderful thing – but it is never an easy thing. After dealing with infertility the challenges of adoption (in addition to the cost, which made it impossible) were just not something we believed we could handle.

      • ginalex

        Yes, I did read the part where it basically says that adoption is too hard so why mess with it. As a matter of fact I am infertile and in addition to that both my sister and I were adopted. I am well aware that adoption is hard, but it should not be simply dismissed as an option because it is hard.

        • No one is dismissing adoption as an option. What I said is that for infertile couples the costs are prohibitive and state regulations often restrictive and there is no financial relief for couples looking to adopt. Infertile couples do not have “easy” choices.

          • ginalex

            You don’t see it as dismissive? Tell me, if you are an infertile woman who is trying to decide between adoption and getting infertility treatments, what do you think your opinion of adoption would be after reading this article? if it were me, I would be sufficiently scared away. Adoption and the kids who are waiting to be adopted have enough strikes against them as it is. This article didn’t help much.

  • ginalex

    I don’t mean to imply that I am against infertility treatments, I am not. However, adoption is a wonderful alternative choice and there are many resources available to couples or single parents who want to adopt. http://www.adoptionservices.org/financial_assistance_programs/index.htm and government grants: http://www.ehow.com/about_5437392_government-grants-adoption.html
    The author states there is no financial help, but that is really not true. Plenty of programs for the adoption process as well as after. Also, there is the rewarding feeling that you have helped a child in need.

    • Perhaps you should read AB’s thoughts below on adoption. Adoption is not a seamless or inexpensive option for infertile couples.

      • ginalex

        I already read them.

  • Adam Puma Borsay

    To add my own thoughts to this discussion….

    I don’t think it is the governments job to mandate particular medical coverages along with footing all or a portion of the bill. If an individual wants an abortion I don’t believe they have a right to demand that their employer covers those types of procedures. If a couple is infertile, I don’t think anyone, government or business, should be obligated to pay for it.

    Here are some more of my philosophical meanderings regarding pro-choice in general…


    • Adam: That’s a whole different discussion. But as along as we do have government-funded healthcare, and it’s law now in this nation, like it or not, the point is that the law is discriminating against infertile couples.

  • seba

    Maybe kind of next to the topic, but… Living in catholic Poland, which officially has one of the lowest abortion rates in the world (it’s banned by law, no statistics can be taken), and according to WHO – highest underground abortion rate in the world (100 abortions for every 206 pregnancies, more women die due to complications after abortion than in other countries), I think I can say – law means nothing. If people want to abort a fetus, they will abort it. On the other hand in Netherlands where abortion is perfectly legal, it’s fairly low. Why? because people know they won’t starve if the kid will be born, they will get help. In Poland all pregnant women will get is 300$ for a kid, good enough for a few packs of diapers, while catholics are more happy to pay for political commercials and banners than help needy. Derp as hell if you ask me.

  • Jennifer Locke

    Money will always dictate choice. In a state or country where abortion is denied, those with means can go elsewhere to obtain one.

  • W Maxwell Cassity-Guilliom

    Pro-choice is a label specifically for a position on abortion, and that should be obvious if we put it in any other context. I’m not “pro-choice” about women’s right to buy cocaine.

  • Bob Lambert

    There is a good secular choice for everybody contributing to pay for birth control and even abortion. Simple dollars and cents. abortion is much cheaper than a live birth and years of infant and childhood care. Fertility treatment is much more expensive than an abortion and leads to all the expense of birth and childhood. Folks who can afford it should have full choice in all of this, but there is no corresponding net savings in supporting fertility treatments as there is in supporting birth control and even abortion. Whenever we are arguing that the government should mandate something, we really should have something beyond debatable feel good arguments. Remember, as well, zero population growth folks make a pretty good argument why it is in the general interest to lower fertility and I have never been able to follow any secular argument for increasing fertility.

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