Weatherford Democrat

November 5, 2012

COLUMN: Deny health care, increase dependence

Dennis Tilly

— Recently, Mississippi joined Texas and several other southern states in refusing to extend Medicaid to millions of the poor living in their states. In Texas alone, this action will deny medical care to about 2 million legal citizens of Texans. The claim by Governor Perry and other state leaders that Texans can’t afford to extend Medicaid would be laughable, if it wasn’t a matter of life, death and suffering to so many people.

The Affordable Health Care Act that offers this extended Medicaid coverage will be almost totally funded by the federal government. Texas only has to pay 10 percent of the cost of providing health care to Texans who are overwhelmingly the working poor and their families. The very poorest Texans are already on Medicaid. These 2 million men, women and children are the people who work, but cannot possibly afford health insurance.

Have we as a people degenerated to the point where we aren’t willing to spend 10 cents on the dollar to actually carry out the moral and religious convictions we claim to honor? What has happened to our sense of responsibility to all the people of Texas? If this decision stands, every Texan should hang his or her head in shame.

Even if we feel no moral obligation to the poor, how do we justify losing tens of billions of tax dollars that would have been spent in this state, but will now go to other, wiser states? Have we forgotten that we pay some of the highest health insurance rates in the country because we have so many uninsured citizens? Every emergency room treatment, hospitalization, test and drug that is not paid for is added to the cost of taxpayer insurance.

Right now we will pay for a $100,000 heart attack or stroke, but we won’t pay for the $20 drug that would have prevented it. We are paying for the $50,000 birth and post natal care, but we won’t pay for the birth control or prenatal care that would have eliminated or greatly reduced the expense; not to mention the human suffering.

In addition to this moral and fiscal insanity, our state leaders have stated they will cancel the largest state programs for poor women’s health because it is administered by Planned Parenthood. They object to the program because Planned Parenthood also offers abortion as a choice for women with unwanted pregnancies despite the facts that state and federal laws forbids using government contributions for abortion and the fact that, of the health services provided by Planned Parenthood, only about 3 percent to 7 percent of private donations go toward abortion services. Does this justify denying mammograms, gynecology exams and tests, and birth control to tens of thousands of Texas women?

The people who are opposed to abortion are incredibly also opposed to the birth control that would prevent abortions. They not only oppose organizations like Planned Parenthood that provide birth control, they also oppose the inclusion of these women under Medicaid, which would largely make Planned Parenthood obsolete. Additionally, most of these same people want to delete the requirement in the Affordable Healthcare Act that insurance companies must cover the cost of birth control.

Have you ever heard the expression “cut off your nose to spite your face?” I strongly suspect that the people who oppose these programs are no great admirers of the poor. I suspect they don’t want a majority of births in this country be to poor, uneducated women. But that’s exactly what is happening now. Birth control, abortion and health care for the financially secure is not at stake. If Roe v. Wade were repealed, all it would do is let each state regulate birth control and abortion. There is absolutely no possibility that every state would pass laws forbidding abortion or restricting birth control. Almost two thirds of Americans want abortion to remain regulated and available. So, no matter the outcome now, abortion will stay available to anyone who can drive or fly to another state. The only people affected by these programs are poor women and their families that cannot afford birth control or travel for an abortion.

I am personally opposed to most abortions. Abortion is an extremely irresponsible method of birth control. But I will never oppose abortion for rape, incest, life of the mother and severe fetal deformity. Visualize what it would be like to be forced to bear the child of a rapist or produce a child who must endure a short painful life. Talk to one of the caregivers that take care of these babies for which there is no hope. I have seen a baby live seven months in intensive care at a cost of around $10,000 per day when there was absolutely no possibility of survival. And if the child had survived it would never speak a coherent word or recognized its own mother.

Very few children like these are born to women who can afford prenatal care and have deformities detected early in pregnancy. The majorities of these deformed, irreversibly mentally disabled babies are born to single poor women or quite often, very young illiterate girls.

What I can’t understand is that the people who object to dependence on government are promoting causes that will increase dependence. As for all other reasons for abortions I want them to be avoided but not forbidden. Although I do not favor abortion as a form of birth control, I’m not willing to impose my beliefs on other people. I wonder what I would do if one of my 13- or 14-year-old granddaughters became pregnant. Not only would her life be severely limited, I have seen children raised by children and the results are often tragic. I have decided to concentrate on prevention and leave abortion to the people immediately involved.

Do we really want a country of gated communities surrounded by slums? I don’t know how to save the poor from themselves, but I know the solution won’t involve denying them healthcare and forcing them to have more futureless children.