Third Way: Healthcare Bill Would Reduce Abortion

Third Way says extending healthcare coverage means fewer abortions through more contraception.

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By Dan Gilgoff, God & Country

Democrats and liberal activists have begun pushing back on conservative charges that Democratic healthcare reform plans would increase access to abortion with a novel argument: that extending health insurance would actually reduce the number of abortions by extending access to contraception.

Third Way has just sent Capitol Hill aides its analysis of the House healthcare bill's implications for abortion. The influential progressive think tank argues that the bill will "have the ultimate effect of reducing the number of abortions in America."

Here's Third Way's logic:

Reform would likely reduce the number of abortions through prevention and support. Prevention and support are keys to reducing abortions. Fifty-seven percent of abortions are performed on women at 200% of poverty or less. Half of all pregnancies are unintended and four in ten unintended pregnancies end in abortion. On prevention, the current health care reform package would extend coverage to over 2 million women who are in need of access to contraception, but are not insured or covered by Medicaid.

On the support side, many women who are uninsured may also feel that the cost of pregnancy and early childhood is too financially difficult to bear without health coverage. The support given by health care reform may lead fewer women to opt for an abortion.

Moreover, there is no reason to think that having insurance that covers abortion is a significant factor in a woman's decision to have an abortion. Seventy-four percent of women pay for abortions out of their own pocket and only 13% rely on private insurance, though many have it.

Thus, the overall effect of this reform package, with increased prevention and support services, will likely be to reduce abortions.