This week on RMC Responds, we want to reiterate that choice affects everyone, and there are very real costs when extremists attempt to infringe on individual freedom. Between an unprecedented onslaught of legislation and continued judicial challenges, reproductive choice policy has been making headlines across the country. As one Facebook commenter astutely points out, “Men, we too are impacted.”
With over 320 state-level anti-choice laws filed this year alone, all taxpayers are feeling the burden of ideological extremism on social issues. Anti-choice lawmakers continue to push bills that they know will be found unconstitutional by the courts, and in doing so are costing citizens millions of dollars in legal fees as they unsuccessfully defend law after law and place extremist ideology before smart spending. Kansas, for instance, has shelled out almost $1 million dollars to two private law firms for legal defense of anti-choice legislation, and the Attorney General expects to spend about $500,000 more before the issue is settles. In North Dakota, the state budget included an allotment of $400,000 specifically for defense of some of the most restrictive laws in the nation, laws whose creators even admit do not comply with standing Supreme Court precedent. After spending $378,000 to defend a 2005 anti-choice law, the South Dakota Attorney General has predicted that the state will spend between $1.75 million and $4 million in the upcoming years as laws passed in 2011 are challenged. And those are just a few of the states allowing extremists to drain taxpayers of money; Wisconsin, Texas, Mississippi, Iowa, Ohio, Virginia, and Arkansas have also attempted to defend harsh abortion restrictions recently, with the costs of those legal expenses yet to be disclosed.
Unfortunately, legal fees are only one part of the cost that accompanies anti-choice extremism. Long before states are forced to fight for statues that unconstitutionally infringe individual freedoms, they must foot the bill for the introduction and debate of anti-choice legislation. City officials in Albuquerque, New Mexico are now considering an overhaul of their electoral system after voters rejected an anti-choice initiative. This initiative, combined with two others this year, costs the city a whopping $1.2 million dollars, and would have cost more in legal fees had it succeeded. Over the summer, Texas Governor Rick Perry called a number of special sessions until an omnibus anti-choice bill had passed, revealing his unrelenting desire to curtail individual rights with no thought to fiscal responsibility. As Republicans, we believe strongly in both individual freedom and smart spending, and the fact is that the anti-choice agenda conflicts with both of these incredibly important ideas.
The costs of restricting personal rights will continue to haunt the nation for years to come, and the long-term impact is very real. As major corporations attempt to put their owners religious beliefs before the health of their employees, we will all feel the financial and social consequences. Access to birth control drastically reduces the number of unintended pregnancies in the United States, preventing hundreds of thousands of abortions and saving millions of dollars in future healthcare costs. This is not just a women’s issue; when individual rights are threatened, every citizen has something at stake.
The reality is that we cannot, as a nation, afford either fiscally or ideologically to ignore the toll that this extremist agenda is taking. Costs associated with the anti-choice movement continue to rise, and citizens everywhere must fight against the infringement on social and financial freedoms. Anti-choice extremism contradicts the ideals of the Republican Party, and it contradicts the ideals and well being of the entire nation.
The Huffington Post (USA)
Family planning proponents emphasize the health and longevity benefits of access to contraception. Women who have access to preventive reproductive health services see improvements in health and reduced poverty for their families.
CBS News (USA)
The Supreme Court has turned away a Christian university’s attempt to overturn a key part of the Obama administration’s health care law.
Kansas City Journal (Kansas City, MO)
A federal judge granted an injunction Tuesday to a Kansas City car dealer who opposes the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate.
Toledo Blade (Toledo, OH)
A citizen-initiated proposal that would require separate insurance for abortions landed in the Republican-led Legislature on Tuesday, with both sides immediately pressuring lawmakers to either pass it or leave it to voters.
Birth control has proven highly effective and reliable. It’s also been good for the left’s political fortunes. So it’s not surprising that Democratic officials, and elected women in particular, are returning to the issue in response to the continual assault on the Affordable Care Act.
Debate has begun in Michigan, where anti-choice leaders are pushing new legislation to deny women basic healthcare coverage. A recent petition, if successful, will prohibit any entity, public or private, from offering its employees health insurance that covers abortion services. Instead, all women will be forced to purchase such coverage through a separate rider, essentially requiring them to predict unplanned pregnancies and other circumstances ahead of time.
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder already vetoed similar legislation last year, explaining that he did not support the government intrusion. Anti-choice groups, however, began a petition that now sits before the Michigan legislature. Lawmakers have 40 days to act on the legislation, and if no action is taken, the issue will be placed on the 2014 ballot for Michigan voters to decide.
Apart from the blatant intrusion into private healthcare, the petition has garnered enormous criticism for not providing coverage exceptions in cases of rape or incest. Anti-choice leaders instead expect that women should foresee these circumstances and go out of their way to purchase separate coverage as a precaution, even though such a law imposes substantial burdens on women, infringes on individual liberties, and further punishes women who fall victim to horrific crimes. Michigan Right to Life President Barbara Listing went so far as to compare rape and incest to a car accident, claiming that it is perfectly reasonable for citizens to purchase insurance for both or be forced to shoulder the full cost. This view starkly contradicts the beliefs held by the majority of Americans. Anti-choice activists have taken to using all sorts of methods to restrict women’s access to reproductive healthcare even in emergency situations, and the Michigan petition is a sad addition to the list of costly intrusions into personal healthcare decisions and basic liberties.
Chicago Tribune (Chicago, IL)
The University of Notre Dame has refiled its lawsuit challenging the federal government’s mandate that religious employers provide contraception coverage to workers as part of their health care benefits, even if those employers don’t cover the cost.
New York Times (New York, NY)
On Monday a lawsuit was filed against the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops, arguing that their anti-choice directives to Catholic hospitals hamper proper care of pregnant women in medical distress, leading to medical negligence.
Sun Times (Chicago, IL)
An appellate court in Chicago has heard arguments on a hotly debated Wisconsin law requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospital.