CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Obamacare is a word coined by those who oppose the Affordable Care Act, but President Obama has embraced the term. If we re-elect him and preserve it, a new study shows we'll soon begin to see powerful results of the law on one of the biggest factors leading to poverty.
Imagine for a moment that there is a medicine with no significant side effects, which if given freely to those who want it, prevents a condition that causes 34 out of a thousand young people to miss significant work time, often leading them to leave the work force or drop out of school. People who live with the condition are usually affected for at least 18 years, and many fall into poverty and require government assistance during some or all of these years, especially those who have recurring bouts of the condition. To avoid some of the effects of this condition, on average 15 out of 1,000 elect a procedure that is considered shameful by many.
By now, you probably realize I'm talking about pregnancy, and the medicine to avoid it is birth control. A recent two-year study of 9,000 young women in St. Louis that got little fanfare (small notice near the classifieds in the Gazette, Oct. 5) shows dramatic results in reducing teen pregnancies and abortions. According to the AP, "When price wasn't an issue, women flocked to the most effective contraceptives -- the implanted options, which typically cost hundreds of dollars." The result was 80 percent fewer teen pregnancies and one-third the abortions of national averages. As Ed Rabel pointed out in his recent entreaty to improve sex education for our teens (Gazette, Oct. 8), West Virginia, with the eighth-highest rate of teen pregnancies among states, has potential to reduce rates even further.
Even if the only legacy of Obamacare were a dramatic national reduction in teen pregnancy and abortion, the program would likely be seen in the future as having significantly reduced poverty and largely solved a thorny national problem. Imagine how many girls might avoid the pitfalls of young motherhood and instead finish school, find gainful employment, and then marry and raise a family when they are better prepared emotionally and economically for parenthood. Imagine how many children will avoid the fate of being raised by an overburdened, underprepared teenager or shuffled around to relatives or foster parents who may only grudgingly care for them. Yet birth control is just one of many provisions of the Affordable Care Act that are likely to improve health and reduce poverty.
I would think the pro-life movement would rally behind Obamacare once they learned of its dramatic effectiveness in reducing abortion, not to mention the expected impact on poverty. To someone opposed to abortion, someone who believes abortion is tantamount to murder, would it not in these circumstances be immoral to oppose provisions in the Affordable Care Act that provide for birth control without co-payments?
Mitt Romney has flip-flopped on many issues before and during his run for president, but he continues to say at every opportunity that he would repeal Obamacare on Day One of his presidency. This is one more reason not to allow him a chance.
Epstein, is a retired teacher, musician and writer in Kanawha County.