An academic reviews health legislation and restrictions on abortion coverage. He thinks the impact even of the Stupak amendment, though real, would be relatively small in reducing coverage for abortion among women with private insurance who now are covered.
But, he argues, this obscures the much bigger benefit of expanding insurance coverage for all women:
What is being overlooked in this debate is the benefit to women’s reproductive health that would most likely occur if insurance access were expanded. Currently, 89 percent of private health insurance plans cover contraceptive services. Presumably, if health care reform provided insurance to more women, those who gained coverage would receive family planning services as well. Research on expanded Medicaid coverage that I have done with a colleague using data from 1990 to 2003 found that it reduced unintended childbearing by 9 percent. Our data indicate that this reduction was attributable to greater use of contraception.
This suggests that health care reform could lead to a substantial reduction in unintended fertility. Consider that there are 12.4 million uninsured women of childbearing age. Suppose that health care reform ended up providing health insurance for 10 million of them. Each year, roughly 7 percent of all women this age give birth, amounting to about 700,000 births to this group of women. If their rate of fertility were cut by 9 percent, then 63,000 unintended births could be avoided if health care reform is enacted.
Of course, there are some who oppose contraception, too.