Will the Stupak Amendment Force Women Who've Miscarried to Lose Insurance Coverage?

Tuesday, 10 November 2009 11:57 By Robin Marty, RH Reality Check | name.

This weekend, a group of male pro-life Democrats gambled with women's health, and women lost. By broadly writing in that insurers can chose whether or not to cover "abortion services," pro-life amendments don't just affect their intended victims -- women seeking a way out of an unwanted or medically harmful pregnancy. They also affect another group of victims -- women whose pregnancies have already ended but have not yet miscarried.

I'm one of those women, and this past Halloween I had what the hospital officially termed an "abortion."

Hospitals and doctors in general do not have terminology to classify a difference between the termination of a live pregnancy and one in which the fetus has already died. To them, a D&C is a D&C, regardless of the state of the "conception materials" removed.  Regardless of how many times I made sure to mention to the staff, either for the sake of my sanity or to spare me some sort of imagined shame, that I was ridding myself of my "dead fetus," to them, it was all the same.

I had learned the day before that the baby I thought was nearly 12 weeks old had no heartbeat, and had actually died at 8 weeks. I was given three options: wait for a miscarriage to occur on its own, something I was told my body had no intention of doing anytime soon, take medication that would expel the fetus, passing it in my own home (classified a "chemical abortion") or come in for a D&C to remove the fetal materials.

As much as I struggled with the sudden realization that the pregnancy was over, I also found myself trying to decide financially what I was willing to do. A chemical abortion would cost $40, but I would be alone, bleeding, and it could still be incomplete and I would require a D&C anyway, since my pregnancy was so advanced. Surgery would be quick, total, and under controlled circumstances, but would likely be our full maxed insurance amount of $1500.  And of course, there was the free option of waiting for my body to finally realize I wasn't pregnant, but after 4 weeks the risk of infection was steadily climbing, increasing my chances of future miscarriage, infertility, or even death. With a toddler at home, and still nursing hopes for extending our family some day, this was not an option.

I chose the quick and total route of the D&C, despite the costs, prioritizing my health and the health of possible future children.  I was lucky, and could afford to make that choice, because currently, my insurance cannot chose to refuse to cover what the hospital as termed an abortion.

Thanks to the Stupak amendment, that can now change.

Abortion is a very broad term. The pro-life contingent would like you to think it only applies to selfish, irresponsible women, murdering babies out of fear of inconvenience. That's a caricature they have invented to push their own agenda. Many of the women who seek out abortions are women who have been raped, who have learned that their child could not survive, have learned that giving birth could physically and permanently harm them.  Or, thanks to newer and vaguer language, women who have already lost the life they were carrying, and need intervention to save their own.

I was one of the latter.  I hope I will be lucky enough to never be again.  But if I am, I hope the insurers don't force me to carry that fetus until I medically harm myself, all for the sake of saying that they do not cover abortion services.

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This article is republished from RH Reality Check, a progressive online publication covering global reproductive and sexual health news and information.

Last modified on Monday, 16 November 2009 13:38