Illinois governor Bruce Rauner has signed a bill into law that, among other provisions, will require Medicaid in the state to cover elective abortions. Governor Rauner issued a statement saying “I understand abortion is a very emotional issue with passionate opinions on both sides. I sincerely respect those who believe abortion is morally wrong. They are good people motivated by principle. But, as I have always said, I believe a woman should have the right to make that choice herself and I do not believe that choice should be determined by income. I do not think it’s fair to deny poor women the choice that wealthy women have.”

To be clear, this bill does not remotely give poor women the choice that wealthy women have. Wealthy women can choose to bear children without having to worry whether they’ll be able to feed them, house them, raise them in safe neighborhoods, and educate them in quality schools. This bill is about giving poor women parity as regards one particular choice, and one only.

According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, 75% of women who sought abortions in 2014 were poor or low-income. Twenty-six percent had incomes of 100–199% of the federal poverty level, and 49% had incomes of less than 100% of the federal poverty level ($15,730 for a family of two). Exactly how free are those choices? How much is that choice “determined by income”?

Rauner’s administration has devastated virtually every other social service for the poor, and now we’re supposed to believe he’s acting out of respect for poor women? Sure–and Hugh Hefner promoted abortion in Playboy because he was all about the feminism.

The US may be a nation of unimaginable wealth, but its poorest women and children are made to live in quite another country, one of constrained resources and alternatives. And here are some of the real-life results:

The proportion of abortion patients who were poor increased by almost 60%—from 27% in 2000 to 42% in 2008 […].

The growing concentration of abortion among women with incomes below the federal poverty line likely reflects a combination of factors. Between 2000 and 2008, the proportion of women in the overall population who were poor increased by 25%. And a Guttmacher study published in the Fall of 2009 showed that the deep economic recession may also have played a role, as financial concerns led more women to want to delay childbearing or limit the number of children they have.

(Guttmacher Institute, Abortion Has Become More Concentrated Among Poor Women)

Not only are poor women less likely than more affluent women to be able to afford to raise a child without assistance, they are also less likely to be able to afford health care, including both prenatal/childbirth care and access to prescription contraception. One of the key reasons that women who use oral contraceptives sometimes miss pills (and are therefore more likely to become pregnant) is that they put off filling prescriptions for financial reasons.

We hope that the health care bill recently passed by Congress can help counteract these pressures on lower-income women.

Last week, we posted about women in Nebraska who have lost public funding for their prenatal care due to immigration politics.  Fear and uncertainty are driving some of these women to consider abortion because they're not sure how they'll be able to bear and raise their children.  Now there is a way that you can help. All Our Lives has created a charity badge for donations to One World Community Health Centers, Inc., aka Indian-Chicano Health Center, Inc., of Omaha, Nebraska.

If you wish, you may designate your gift specifically for prenatal care when you make your donation. Please donate if you can; if you can't, please help by spreading the word!

While we're all holding our breath waiting for the House to vote on health care reform, let's not forget another health care situation. In Nebraska, Governor Dave Heineman is still refusing to support LB110. This legislation would allow the state to continue its decades-old practice of funding prenatal care for low-income women who are undocumented immigrants. The previous prenatal care funding expired March 1, and clinics in Omaha are starting to hear from clients who are scared and considering abortion:

McVea said she has been flabbergasted by the response from her mostly Hispanic patients, who have a strong cultural and religious aversion to abortion. She said she can count on one hand the number of abortions she has been aware of over the past decade, adding that one of the clinic's translators had never heard the Spanish word for “abortion” until the past two weeks. “I just really underestimated how the loss of prenatal care would push so many people into doing something that ordinarily they would never, ever consider,” McVea said. “It's a lot of fear. Uncertainty drives a lot of women to choose an abortion.” She added that although the clinic is offering to help the women pay for prenatal services and reassures women that the government will pay for deliveries, the women don't trust that information. “We tell women, ‘It's going to be covered, you don't have to worry,' ” McVea said. “But there's a lot of fear because they've been turned down once.”

I've been in touch with OneWorld Community Health Center of Omaha, where McVea works, about earmarking donations for prenatal care at their clinic. I expect to hear back tomorrow. Please help if you can.

Over the past twenty years, US maternal/fetal deaths from pregnancy & childbirth have *doubled.* The poor and women and children of color are the most affected. Lack of timely health care–or health care at all–is a major culprit. Please demand lifesaving action. http://takeaction.amnestyusa.org/siteapps/advocacy/index.aspx?c=jhKPIXPCIoE&b=2590179&template=x.ascx&action=13937