A War on Modern Medical Care?

by Dan Quinn

Does the religious right want to limit pregnant women’s access to modern medical care? It’s beginning to look that way.

This past weekend Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum — endorsed by religious-right leaders meeting at a Texas ranch in January — came out in opposition to requiring that health insurance cover prenatal testing at no cost to the patient:

Earlier in the day on Saturday, Santorum had also said that health insurance plans shouldn’t be required to cover prenatal testing, because that testing results in more abortions….

“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,” Santorum told the Ohio Christian Alliance conference.

Asked by [CBS News’ Bob] Schieffer about his claims that prenatal testing leads to more abortions, Santorum insisted that this was “a fact.”

“We’re talking about specifically prenatal testing, and specifically amniocentesis, which is a procedure that actually creates a risk of having a miscarriage when you have it, and is done for the purposes of identifying maladies of a child in the womb. And in many cases — and in fact in most cases — most physicians recommend, if there is a problem, they recommend abortion,” Santorum said.

Santorum had said that because of this trend, health insurance providers should not be forced to make the procedures available free of charge.

Here’s how the U.S. Department of Health and Human services describes the importance of prenatal testing, which is a standard part of modern medical care:

“Medical checkups and screening tests help keep you and your baby healthy during pregnancy. This is called prenatal care. It also involves education and counseling about how to handle different aspects of your pregnancy.”

But Santorum argues that President Obama simply wants to see more disabled fetuses aborted:

“That, too, is part of Obamacare, another hidden message as to what President Obama thinks of those who are less able than the elites who want to govern our country,” Santorum said.

As repellent as such statements are, they’re hardly surprising anymore coming from Santorum.

We have noted the religious right’s hostility to women controlling their own reproductive health. One Texas lawmaker, for example, openly acknowledged last year that he and his right-wing colleagues in the state Legislature were engaged in a “war on birth control.” Santorum, who thinks birth control is a “license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be,” has said that states should be able to ban access to contraception altogether. He also opposes a requirement that health insurance cover birth control.

We think religious-right leaders backing Santorum should now explain whether they also support limiting access by pregnant women to modern medical care like prenatal testing.

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Texas Freedom Network

@SIECUS @kmillertfn @TXCapTonight This campaign for medically accurate, comprehensive and inclusive #SexEducation will stretch into next year when the TX State Board of Education is scheduled to make a decision. Find the TFN and SEICUS recs and ways to get involved at: tfn.org/sex-ed #TeachTheTruth pic.twitter.com/eoMv…