A new article in the Christian Science Monitor trumpets that abortion is becoming a major issue in the 2012 Presidential campaign. The Republican candidates are all stating and restating their opposition to legal abortion while at the same time the Obama administration is enforcing rules broadening access to contraception, bringing his views on contraception and abortion back into sharp focus.
I can applaud the administration for increasing access to birth control for all insured women by mandating coverage and removing co-pays for the medication but I cannot get behind, once again, turning abortion into a major campaign issue.
It’s no secret that I am pro-choice. I do, to a degree, understand the urgency anti-choice activists feel when they contemplate what, to them, amounts to the murder of the unborn and their desire to keep the issue in the political limelight. But I still think they need to expand their focus onto the other areas of women’s health care that make up the bulk of medical treatment to women in this country.
According to the CDC, in 2008 there were approximately 825,000 induced abortions in the US. In the same year, there were approximately 4,247,000 live births. That means abortion amounted to only 19% of maternal health care in this country.
So why does it amount to nearly 100% of the policy debate about maternal and infant health?
I have yet to hear the candidates talk about bringing easier access to quality gynecological and obstetrical care to all the women of childbearing age in America. There is no discussion about recent studies that show the efficacy of certified midwives in caring for women seeking a home birth. No conversation about expanding rural health centers to make sure women in remote areas have adequate access to prenatal, perinatal and pediatric care. No talk of expanding clinic access in urban areas. No one has said anything about the implications of state and federal cuts to WIC, SCHIP, and Medicaid and their effect on maternal and infant health. There’s no talk about outreach into at-risk populations to assist with contraceptive education, STD prevention, and prenatal care, all of which makes for healthier women and babies.
The only conversation about women’s health that I ever hear from politicians is about abortion and I am sick of it.
As a woman, I am a whole person with a whole set of health needs. I am not simply a creature who either will or won’t get an abortion. There is much more to woman’s health that the binary calculus of pro- or anti-legal abortion access.
As women, it’s time we demand that health care for us, for our whole bodies, reproductive systems and everything else, too, be a campaign issue. We need to recognize that the health of women impacts the health of future generations.
So does everyone running for President.