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A Letter to Gov. Pence About the "Government Takeover of Healthcare"

Illustration for article titled A Letter to Gov. Pence About the Government Takeover of Healthcare

Photo credit: IN.gov

Dear Governor Pence,

This week you signed into law SEA 371, a bill that places several new restrictions on abortion providers. Specifically, the bill requires any facility that prescribes pills that induce chemical abortions to meet the exact same requirements as any facility that performs surgical abortions. Women being prescribed RU-486 must undergo a gynecological examination by the provider who will be prescribing the pills, and if they don’t want to hear the fetal heart beat, they must sign a document written by the state department to prove that they turned down the ultrasound.


I’m sure you have heard the reasons for opposing this bill, such as:

  • Requiring a surgical setting for what essentially amounts to a consultation is unnecessary and is only designed to make it harder for clinics to stay open.
  • Women know what abortion is. They don’t need to be coerced or bullied into looking at ultrasounds or listening to fetal heartbeats, especially for such an early procedure, often before a heartbeat is even detectable. If this is a rule, are you comfortable asking a 12-year-old rape victim to stand up for herself and say she doesn’t want to hear the heartbeat?
  • Women who want a chemical abortion under these new guidelines are likely to seek out the drugs online, which means they’re moving farther away from a doctor’s supervision and not closer to it.
  • Medical professionals generally see these new guidelines as totally unnecessary, and there is nothing I’ve seen to suggest that they will improve women’s health in any way

As you know, the point of these TRAP laws isn’t to improve women’s health but to reduce the number of providers who can prescribe abortion pills. Your goal is to reduce the number of abortions in Indiana.

That goal is something I can support.

You and I have very different ideas about how to do that. I believe the best ways to reduce the rate of abortion in our state are to embrace comprehensive sex education in middle and high schools (as students in abstinence only programs are no less likely to have sex than those in comprehensive programs), provide free birth control of any kind to anyone who wants it (which has been proven to reduce abortion rates), and make it less of a financial strain to go through pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting.


You believe that Roe vs. Wade is the “worst Supreme Court decision since Dred Scott,” and that the best way to reduce abortion is to try to regulate it out of existence.

Clearly, you and I are not going to see eye-to-eye on this issue, even though we would both be thrilled with the end result of fewer abortions. I just don’t feel comfortable if those fewer abortions are because women with unplanned pregnancies are prohibited by law, by logistics, or by regulations from acquiring them. Some of those women will end up being wonderful mothers to children they didn’t feel prepared to have, but others will feel forced into adoption, some will end up raising children in poverty despite never having wanted to, some will give birth to children whose fathers are violent abusers, some will feel desperate enough in a few months to seek an abortion from whoever will provide one—even if it’s someone who ignores all regulations and creates a dangerous, predatory environment.


I can already anticipate some of your objections to what I’m saying. Am I saying that a child born into poverty is better off having been aborted? Of course not. I’m saying that if a woman wanted to make a choice at 7 or 8 or 9 weeks gestation that she is not ready to raise a child in poverty, she should be able to make that choice whether or not you or I feel it’s a morally acceptable decision, because that is her legally protected right. Am I saying that there should be no federal oversight of abortion providers? Of course not. But the government’s involvement in the practices of medical providers should be based on medicine, not on politics.

Recognizing that we’re not going to be able to see these things in the same way, I’d like to move forward and make a suggestion.


In the past, you have referred to the Affordable Care Act as a “government takeover of healthcare.” You oppose the ACA’s contraception mandate, even though it would possibly be the single most effective way to reduce the abortion rate in the United States.

Asking you to repeal SEA 317 isn’t going to do either of us any good.

Asking you to change your mind about Roe v. Wade isn’t going to do any of us any good.


What I hope can do us some good is if we refrain from calling things what they’re not. I won’t call you a woman hater. You won’t call me a baby killer. I won’t call you a bad excuse for a Christian. You won’t call me a bad excuse for a Christian.

Let’s call things what they are. SEA 317 is a “government takeover of healthcare.”


If you’re going to be opposed to the ACA, and you’re going to try to fight what’s left of its implementation in our state, and you’re going to do so on the basis that the ACA is “government takeover,” then do me a favor and use the same terminology for SEA 317.

That’s what Indiana has just done. In passing this bill, Indiana has used legislation to enforce medically unnecessary restrictions on healthcare workers who provide a service that some Hoosiers feel is immoral or unethical. It has taken decision making power away from patients and doctors and placed that power in the hands of politicians.


I hope to never hear you say “government takeover of healthcare” to disparage Obamcare again, unless you are willing to renounce SEA 317.

This post originally appeared on my blog.

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