Today the House of Representatives will vote on H.R. 7, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2017.” If passed, the bill would permanently deny abortion coverage to anyone reliant on health care coverage through the federal government (military and military dependents, incarcerated women, indigenous communities, Medicaid recipients, and employees of the federal government among others).
Jackie* and her husband Brad* were excited about being pregnant with their third child, so they were devastated to learn on a 20-week ultrasound that their baby had a significant brain abnormality that would have resulted in nearly constant seizures, profound disability, and likely very early death. Because they wanted to spare their child a brief lifetime of pain, they decided on abortion. They were completely shocked to learn that their insurance would not cover Jackie’s procedure because she is a federal employee. I remember holding her hand as she cried about how cruel it was to have to birth a baby that would suffer and die, all because the insurance that covered the rest of her medical care would not cover abortion in cases of fetal anomaly.
Jackie and Brad struggled to come up with the thousands of dollars needed to have the procedure in the hospital, and after three weeks of trying to collect the money, they gave up. Dejected, they decided to just wait for their baby to be born or to die in utero. Many weeks later, Jackie stopped feeling fetal movement, and an ultrasound confirmed that her baby had died. Her only option at that point was to labor and deliver her dead daughter. Had she been able to receive an abortion when she needed one, she could have had a brief outpatient procedure and been spared the grief of going through a delivery, knowing she wouldn’t be taking a baby home afterwards.
It’s a special kind of cruelty to force loving parents into a situation in which they must wait for a baby to die in utero, then spend days in the hospital to deliver. HR 7 would guarantee that more loving parents like Jackie and Brad must do exactly that.