Social Question

WestRiverrat's avatar

Should abortions be covered by insurance if Birth Control is provided free?

Asked by WestRiverrat (19878 points ) March 8th, 2012

Under Obama’s plan, birth control will be provided free by the insurance companies to anyone that wants it. This would include the morning after pill.

If this is the case, could an argument be made that abortion as a means of birth control is an elective procedure and thus not covered because alternative birth control is provided?

As an example, my health care covers glasses and contacts. It doesn’t cover lasik surgery because there is an alternative provided.

This is not about whether abortion should be legal or not. Please don’t turn this into a debate over the merrits of abortion. This is about what insurance should and does cover.

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34 Answers

saint's avatar

Really GQ. But, I don’t think you understand the arcane science of developing a voting constituency.

Qingu's avatar

There are several ways to answer this question.

No from a purely legal standpoint because it would be prohibited by the Hyde Amendment.

No from a pragmatic standpoint because even though I’m pro choice I realize that this is probably the most divisive issue in the country (unlike contraception, which virtually everyone uses).

Yes in an ideal world, at least with 1st and 2nd term pregnancies and with some restrictions on 3rd, because the moral arguments against such abortions are incoherent and based on false conceptions about “souls.”

john65pennington's avatar

I had the same question, concerning women with big busts having a breast reduction to keep their backs from hurting.

Why doesn’t the same apply to men with big stomachs, who’s backs are hurting?

bkcunningham's avatar

Doesn’t each individual insurance company have its own individual policies regarding what is covered and what your payments for the coverage will be? I don’t see how the mandate for contraceptions will have any bearing on coverage for abortions. Especially since we still have to pay for our insurance coverage. If you want coverage for that type of procedure, you have to pay the piper.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

Yes. Abortions are cheaper than caring for the child till 18.

And I trust women to make these calls for her own body.

DrBill's avatar

Only if it is a vital procedure to protect the health of the mother AND the child is not viable.

wundayatta's avatar

Of course they should. It’s a medical necessary procedure. It should be covered.

Aethelflaed's avatar

Yes.

Abortion isn’t really an elective procedure like LASIK is. Once you’re pregnant, all the condoms and oral birth control in the world aren’t going to get you unpregnant. If you’re in a situation where an abortion is really even being considered, then there is no other medical procedure option.

Also, abortions are significantly cheaper (for everybody) than delivering a baby, much less raising it.

And, because number of people who get to impose their morals upon my uterus? 0.

ETpro's avatar

Yes. Most insurance (Including that which Sandra Fluke was talking about in her testimony before congress) is not paid for by the taxpayers, but by the individual and/or their employer. Why shouldn’t individuals be free to purchase coverage that suits their needs? Most insurers would probably cover abortion in a heartbeat rather than many months of OB/GYN visits and delivery, with all its risks of complications. It’s amazing how fast the bullet heads lose their “religious convictions” when there is money on the line.

chyna's avatar

My only answer to this is that a girl I knew used abortions as a method of birth control. She had 4 abortions and was on her way to her 5th when I last saw her.

jonsblond's avatar

@wundayatta It’s a medical necessary procedure. Not always. There are times when abortion is necessary when the mother’s life is in danger, but to have an abortion because you just aren’t ready for a baby doesn’t sound like a necessary procedure to me. More like a I’m not ready to face the consequences for my actions procedure imo.

I agree with @DrBill‘s answer.

ETpro's avatar

@chyna Maybe, but that is definitely the exception. Most women prefer less intrusive, potentiall dangerous forms of birth control. The far right always comes up with the wildest case possible, and presents it as if it’s the norm. I am guessing that is what this answer is.

@jonsblond It’s one thing to “face the consequence of your actions.” It is entirely another to force a child to face consequences they had nothing to do with. You are not in the best position to determine who is ready to take on the responsibility of rearing a child. The parents (or if the guy has gone, the mother) are best qualified to decide that.

jonsblond's avatar

@ETpro just giving my opinion. I’ve been in the position to know what I’m talking about.

rojo's avatar

I would say yes and hope that by providing the birth control the number of abortions would be reduced. I believe that preventative medicine is less expensive in most cases than trying to cure the (and this is where I get in trouble) disease.

ETpro's avatar

@jonsblond Since I am a male, it is probably hard to grasp, but so have I.

@rojo It is obvious that by providing birth control, you reduce the number of abortions. Everyone of sound mind wants to do that. But the far right prefers a war on women’s reproductive rights, even if it means more abortions, which they claim to hate.

tom_g's avatar

@jonsblond: ” More like a I’m not ready to face the consequences for my actions procedure imo.”

Interesting. Do you apply this logic to any other area of healthcare? Do you support health insurance companies removing coverage for insulin or other diabetes-related health procedures? Certainly, a large part of the population utilizing these services is doing so as a consequence of their actions.

wundayatta's avatar

@jonsblond It seems to me that psychological reasons for an abortion fit the dimensions of medically necessary. But that’s a term of art, and what you and I think probably doesn’t influence the insurance companies one bit. They have their rules, but I don’t know what they are, and I don’t know why they are. What I think it really moot as far as that is concerned. And I don’t have magic powers to wave a wand and make the world the way I want it.

rojo's avatar

@ETpro I thought so too but you can find information that does not agree with that premise admittedly most have a religious bias. That being said, I think the only way increased access to birth control can actually cause more abortions is that more people become active and you have a greater number of chances for whatever method to fail. On an idividual basis, the rates have to fall. I also found a study that suggested giving a full years supply rather than just three months is more effective in pregnancy prevention.

ETpro's avatar

@rojo The premise that more people will become sexually active seems unlikely to me. We know that 99% of women use contraception at some time in their lives. An additional 1% becoming sexually active isn’t exactly a landslide.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@rojo I’m pretty excited about the prospect of people having more sex. I don’t think love can solve everything, but I definitely think people are less likely to have crazy, stupid, petty fights and wars (from family feuds to military wars) when their brains are regularly flooded with happy chemicals and they feel loved.

wundayatta's avatar

I’m all in favor of more sex. I doubt anyone will be surprised by that.

ETpro's avatar

@Aethelflaed & @wundayatta Astute observation. So it does encourage more sex. That’s a problem?

Aethelflaed's avatar

@ETpro I think it doesn’t encourage sex, so much as make people feel like they can act on that desire more. But, people already act on that desire a huge amount amount, birth control or no, and most people saying “omg, birth control will encourage them to have sex!!!” aren’t really satisfied with you only having sex 3 times a week instead of the 6 times a week you would on birth control.

ETpro's avatar

@Aethelflaed Yes, I think more in terms of birth control will cut the number of abortions, and that is a good thing. I am pro choice, but know that it’s generally a personal tragedy when a woman does have to make that choice.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@ETpro I’d rather not stigmatize abortion. Yes, prevention is always better, as is true of all medical procedures, but it’s actually not always a personal tragedy to have to get an abortion, and I wish people would quit making it out to be this horrible thing that must have just been so bad.

wundayatta's avatar

It’s not bad, but it can be very sad. Especially for people who have a hard time getting pregnant.

Qingu's avatar

@Aethelflaed, I agree. I also feel that the word “abortion” covers a tremendous range of things and it’s ridiculous that they are lumped together.

I’m a guy, so perhaps I don’t have the full story, but it seems to me that there is a huge difference between killing a mindless, brainless clump of cells 2 weeks into a pregnancy, and killing an 8-month fetus with a fully formed brain. It just seems like it’s fundamentally different, and the only reason we lump them together is because nincompoops insist that a magic soul comes down from heaven and possesses a blastula upon formation.

wundayatta's avatar

@Qingu From personal experience, I can tell you that two cells can mean as much as an eight month fetus. There is no scientific standard here, I don’t believe. What is important is the feelings that people have about the idea of the baby.

Shit! You don’t even need two cells! The idea of a child can be just as powerful as the real thing if you can’t have one. The idea of the child symbolizes the future of life. It is as close to immortality as a person can get. It is, in essence, everything to some people.

There are many people who don’t feel that way, and they maybe can’t understand people who do feel that way, and perhaps that is the problem. An empathy gap. Both groups may feel passionately about the sanctity of life on one hand and about the necessity for reducing the human footprint on earth, on the other. Or other positions related to these.

I stand on both a belief in a woman’s right to control her own body and on a belief in the emotional importance of children—even those who don’t have a physical existence—the children of our minds. What matters to me is love, I guess. Not sure how that all plays out.

Qingu's avatar

But the “idea” of a baby is rather separate from the issue of abortion, yes?

Aethelflaed's avatar

@Qingu I understand the difference you’re trying to make, but a couple points: fetuses and fetus brains aren’t fully developed at 8 months. That’s why they come out at 9 months. And, I really dislike this idea that, sure, first trimester abortions are a-ok, but eventually, yeah, the pregnancy has progressed for long enough that the woman has given up her right to bodily autonomy and the fetus has more rights than she does.

Qingu's avatar

@Aethelflaed, I don’t think a highly developed (if not fully developed) brain would entail that the fetus has more rights than the woman does.

My point was just that there is a huge difference in moral consideration between something without a brain (like a clump of cells) and something with a brain (like an 8 month fetus).

Aethelflaed's avatar

Brains are just clumps of cells….

Qingu's avatar

Yes yes. Would you agree that a major basis of morality is the capacity for suffering? (or, conversely, happiness)? Plants, for example, don’t enter into moral considerations. Nobody cares if a plant is hurt or if it’s happy.

Animals do for most people, even if they ignore what happens at factory farms. Most people would have a problem with torturing a kitten. Most people would probably have a problem with torturing a turtle or a fish, even.

Aethelflaed's avatar

Another reason abortions should be covered by insurance? Because it’s really freaking common. 1 in 3 women will have an abortion by the age of 45, and women are almost 3 times more likely to get an abortion than they are to get breast cancer. Of the women getting abortions, 60% are already mothers. Roughly half of all pregnancies are unintended; of those unintended pregnancies, roughly half will be terminated. Abortion is one of the most common surgical procedures for women to experience. Why on earth would insurances not cover such a basic, common procedure? (Source)

@Qingu I think we’re getting into the morality of abortion, which this thread isn’t about.

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