When States Rights Are Wrong
Reproductive rights have become a center of attention for the religious right and their political spokespeople. Many are claiming that even providing contraception violates their strongly held religious beliefs. The so-called “Right to Life” movement is basically endorsing a right to be born, but no rights after that. The same folks who want government to stop people from terminating pregnancies (some even after the death of the mother), believe it is immoral for government to intervene to insure the health and wellbeing of those children after they are born. Thus, we see such progressive safety net programs as food stamps and early childhood education being slashed for poor children. Many programs built during the New Deal, Civil Rights movement and War on Poverty have been decimated in recent budget-cutting frenzies that have barely addressed issues pertaining to the other sides of the budgetary spending equation, such as unnecessary tax breaks and subsidies for the wealthy and those who “earn” their income by other than wages and salaries, the subsidies paid to highly profitable and polluting corporations and a bloated military establishment.
Perhaps the most blatant areas where this unequal treatment of American citizens is currently taking place is in the health care arena and has been caused by both a Supreme Court decision and Republican dominated state legislatures. The unwillingness of about half of the states to accept Medicaid expansion for their people under the ACA has resulted in a coverage gap for millions of people living in those states who are neither poor enough to qualify for Medicaid under the old state rules or to qualify for Federal subsidies to help pay for their insurance premiums. In essence, these states are telling the Federal Government they will not accept the federal funds to pay for the expansion because the Supreme Court ruled they can’t be forced to do so. Those paying in reality are the individuals and families who remain uninsured and the hospitals and other providers who end up footing the bill when they show up at the emergency room with no insurance coverage requiring medical treatment that could have been prevented or more efficiently and humanely administered before they became emergencies.