by Kathy Greenier, Reproductive Freedom Project Director
Imagine you’re D.J. Feldman, from the Washington, D.C. area. Ms. Feldman learned at 11 weeks into her pregnancy that her fetus had anencephaly, meaning that if she carried to term, she would deliver a baby with almost no brain, and with zero chance of survival - anencephaly is always fatal. Ms. Feldman and her husband had been trying for two years to have a baby, but she had no choice in this instance – her doctor told her that, given her circumstances, an abortion was necessary to safeguard her health. Ms. Feldman’s federal insurance coverage did not cover the cost of the procedure, but Ms. Feldman was not low-income, and she received the care she needed.
The General Assembly House Appropriations and Senate Finance Committees will hear Budget Amendments 4-5.04 2h (House), 4-5.04 5h (House), and 4-5.04 #1s (Senate), a proposed change in our law that unfairly prevents low-income women who are facing a situation like D.J.’s from getting coverage for an abortion. These budget amendments repeal funding currently available for Medicaid-eligible women to have an abortion in cases where a physician certifies in writing that the fetus has an incapacitating physical or mental anomaly. These budget amendments are just plain wrong because it means only people with expensive insurance or those who have enough means can access an abortion in those situations.
This is the bottom line - whatever our personal opinion, we must ensure that each person can actually afford to make her own decisions about her pregnancy. It’s not our place to decide for someone else whether they should or should not have an abortion. And it’s certainly not the place of our elected officials. We don’t need to try to control what someone else does by holding back their health care benefits if we don’t agree with their decisions. Abortion shouldn’t be any different – we’re not in the woman’s shoes.
If these budget amendments are approved, Medicaid-eligible women in Virginia will have no option for a pregnancy in which the fetus has an incapacitating physical or mental anomaly. Tell your legislator not to treat low-income women unfairly. We can have different personal feelings about abortion while still supporting a woman who needs financial assistance to access one.
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