One of the key characteristics of this election cycle is that the GOP is not for anything. They have defined themselves as the party of “No” and Rick Santorum is the leader of the pack. No separation of church and State. No premarital sex. No birth control. No abortions. No taxes. No EPA. No FDA. No evolution. And now, no prenatal testing.
Santorum’s problem with amniocentesis (and presumably other forms of testing) is that it can detect genetic defects and other problems early enough for the mother to abort, therefor it should not be covered by insurance. Here, again, we see the black or white extremism of one of the top contenders in the GOP field for the presidency.
“One of the mandates is they require free prenatal testing in every insurance policy in America,” Santorum, a conservative Roman Catholic, told a Christian Alliance luncheon in Columbus. “Why? Because it saves money in health care. Why? Because free prenatal testing ends up in more abortions and therefore less care that has to be done, because we cull the ranks of the disabled in our society.”
So now we’re one step removed from abortion but Santorum still wants to restrict our rights. Smoking cigarettes might lead to a miscarriage. Liberals would like to ban them for indisputably killing one out of every three people but Republicans faint with outrage at the idea. Being in a car accident might lead to a miscarriage. Perhaps we should ban pregnant women from getting into cars? Toxins in the environment can trigger an abortion as well. Yet Mr. Santorum thinks there should beless regulation on industrial pollution. It’s interesting how selective he is about what he opposes.
The reality is that prenatal testing like amniocentesis allows parents to make an informed decision about whether to proceed with a pregnancy. Can the parents afford a special needs child? Will they be able to care for it properly? Remember, Republicans viscerally object to government programs that help people without financial resources. This includes cutting services to, yes, special needs children. This is the Catch 22 of conservative politics. You would be forced to have a child you cannot care for but will receive no help from the government that forced you to have it.
But aside from Santorum’s one track mind, prenatal testing does, actually, serve a vital function aside from determining to terminate a pregnancy. I know this from personal experience.
Several years ago, my wife’s cousin found out very late in her pregnancy that her baby had Anencephaly. The baby had not developed a brain beyond the most rudimentary of functions. Its heart and lungs would pump and breath and the baby would be alive in only the most technical of senses. It would never grow, smile, speak, walk or crawl. It can usually be detected by a sonogram but not always.
Further testing would have revealed it but as it would have been cost the insurance company extra, no testing was done until it was far too late. She had to have a third trimester abortion. I can imagine had she lived in Kansas she would have been threatened and denounced by fanatics who would not have taken the time to learn the details of her suffering. In Rick Santorum’s world, she would have delivered that baby stillborn or watched it die slowly over the course of a few weeks.
Mandated prenatal testing would have saved my wife and I a good deal of grief as well. Our first two pregnancies ended in a miscarriage because there was an easily correctable problem that went undetected. Why? Because our insurance company would not pay for the testing and we couldn’t afford it out of pocket.
I don’t necessarily blame them for the first miscarriage, although if they were less concerned about profit, we might have had the tests and prevented the loss. I certainly blame them for the second which terminated in exactly the same way and could have also been prevented had our insurance authorized the test. If we were rich, we could have just paid for it ourselves, but we weren’t and so we lost the second baby as well. Why? So some insurance company executive can get paid millions?
A message for all of you “free market” lovers out there: A “free market” is never free. There’s always a cost and it’s more often than not measured in human suffering.
So, yes, Mr. Santorum, sometimes prenatal testing leads to abortion. But sometimes it leads to saving the life of the baby or avoiding profound and unnecessary misery. In your rush to strip us all of our rights so as to conform to your Biblical ethics, would you, perhaps, care to factor that into your equation?