Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Choosing Compassion over Suppression

"I'm going there, and it's not pretty," is what I hear in my mind as I type this post. I hadn't imagined that in my grief journey I would come to an intersection with a sign post that reads, politics. I will do my best to refrain from invective, name-calling, and sarcasm. I will state as clearly and concisely my reasoning and do my best to avoid emotional outbursts. I am nervous. I do not wish to offend. I do wish to add a perspective on health care reform.

I will gladly pay more tax dollars so that more women and children can live healthier lives. I am fearful of negative aspects of the bill that, for me, are negative because I find them primarily vague. What ignites the most fear is the unknown, because this bill would instigate significant changes. I've read many interpretations of the bill from a variety of perspectives. However, my decision to support or not, needed to be based on what I read and understood. So, I read the bill (the one from the HR); it wasn't a quick read (1000+ pages), but it was manageable (150-200 words a page, double-spaced and wide margins). I understand that by contributing to the health care of others, I may inadvertently fund procedures that I am morally opposed to, therefore, choosing to support or not becomes a true moral dilemma that I must grapple with.

Currently, 90% of all abortions, are paid for by private insurance companies, the other 10% I assume are paid for by the already government funded health care plans. That suggests to me, that I am privileged to have the free will and personal responsibility to make my health decisions based on my personal belief system by virtue of the amount of money I make. I am not convinced that stopping this bill will stop women from making decisions I disagree with. I find no evidence in the language of the bill that abortions or other procedures will be mandated.

To continue grappling and arriving at a personal solution to my moral dilemma, I must be careful not to elevate myself to some righteous level, by lauding a personal decision to have my child. For me, when I found out I was pregnant, my daughter was already here. Therefore, I cannot claim making the right decision, when I didn't believe it was a choice. I believe that women in lower income brackets have morals, ethics, and belief systems that guide their behaviors just as I do. Perhaps tax dollars will give them opportunities to be as free and personally responsible for their behaviors and choices, as are those with money.

More importantly, tax dollars will give them opportunities to receive prenatal care and to take their children to the doctor when they are sick. My insurance paid for prenatal care, and when we learned of Down Syndrome and our daughter's heart defect, I had pregnancy decisions to make. Insurance paid for my decision to have counseling from a qualified genetic counselor (who requested information concerning my beliefs prior to testing) concerning parenting and caring for a child with developmental delays; it paid for my decision to have early tests by a pediatric heart specialist to determine when and what course of action would be needed to repair her heart; and it paid for my more frequent prenatal visits that became every other week or as soon as 10 days after the last visit. I believe women in lower income brackets ought to have the right to make these same pregnancy decisions that I was privileged to make.

This is not an easy conclusion to arrive at, when powerful emotions are at play. But, another powerful emotion is also at play, and here's where I break my promise about no emotional outbursts. Cailtin's life and death gave me the gift of this emotion--compassion. It's not that I was without compassion before my daughter, but it is that I have a deeper understanding, a stronger drive to be more compassionate, and belief that it is essential to choose compassion over suppression. I am not interested in suppressing needed health care that lies within my morals--taking care of women and children.

Private insurance typically pays for family planning services; and if no insurance, Title X allows for the care. Taxpayers are already paying for services that also include gynecological exams, diabetes tests, cancer screening, as well as pregnancy tests and counseling. My understanding of the business of health care is that more money is made by private companies when they deny care, then when they provide it. Private insurance companies are no more interested as a corporation in helping children live and helping poor women get the care they need to have healthy babies or get counseling when they discover they are pregnant, then those who might run a public option. For a company that is for profit, I am led to believe that stopping this bill is about profit. And pushing my moral button on abortion is a way to manipulate my emotions to help companies keep their bottom line.

But, for me, the denial of basic care for others is unacceptable. I remind myself that this bill is not a pro-abortion bill. I remind myself that I already have the privilege of enacting my morals by virtue of having money and relative good health. Stopping the bill would be choosing suppression over compassion. I choose compassion.

I am convinced that more women and children will be served and cared for, with reform of the current system. I am convinced that more children will live with reform of the current system. I am convinced that more families, when they suffer the death of a child will be spared the painful hospital bills that arrive following the death of their precious children. Spared in the same way, I was, because I have money. I don't need to keep more of my money, I need to be more compassionate. For me, one small part of acting upon that compassion is to support this reform. A larger part is to support other ways, personal and legislative, to reduce abortions and support a culture of life. I grieve for the deaths of all children and hope for more compassionate support of pregnant women who find themselves without health care. But that larger part is another post on another blog--as I have crossed the intersection of politics and grief.

I am not looking for validation of my position and honor all perspectives. However,
I ask that when commenting that you refrain from name-calling, sarcasm, threats to my health, and damnation of my soul. But, if you are unable, I will choose compassion and wish you only peace.


  1. How did I miss this post? Did you only just put it up?? (If so, go in and change the date so that everyone's blog-lists is updated).

    You write very eloquently. And I'm not hear to call you names. I agree with what you write.

    Compassion should be everyone's choice. Everyone's.

    How can anyone argue in favour of suppressing medical care when people are suffering because they don't have enough money??? I don't know how they do it, but do it they do.

    Freedom of choice is part of what makes a democracy. How can denying someone that choice make anything better??

    Compassion should always be the norm.

  2. mmm ... not HERE to call you names (where is my brain this morning???)

  3. I hope things change in your country, I really do.

  4. My wish is the same as Monique's. I am Canadian, but half my family is American, & my cousin recently lost his house, in part because of medical bills.

    I find it unfathomable that so many people in a country as rich as the United States go without basic medical care.

  5. I can't believe there are people out there that disagree with what you're saying. In Australia we have a public system that provides all you are talking about. It's not perfect and it's under tremendous strain but it does the job.

    My daughter spent five months of her five and a half months in hospital. I got a couple of small bills from private paediatricians but that was all. The government paid for everything else. I can't imagine the strain of having to cope with thousands of dollars worth of medical bills AND deal with the loss of my daughter.

  6. I choose compassion as well. I will call you a name...brave. ;)
    I have been on both ends of the spectrum at different times in my life. Being a woman in this country with no health insurance is a scary state to find yourself in.

  7. Thanks for this post. I wish more of us could think as you do and choose compassion.

  8. I sincerely appreciate your courage in sharing your views...believe me, I know it's scary to do. :)

    I agree with you. I am most often labeled as one greatly lacking compassion, and that label is absolutely, completely false. I guess I am just naive...I really believe that in this country we have so many intelligent, well-meaning individuals, and surely we can figure out some way to help everyone. I want to help those who need it, without taking care away from those who currently have what they need...like I said, I guess I'm just naive. Oh well, here's to hoping.

    Thanks again for sharing your thoughts. I am an advocate of compassion over supression as well.

  9. I'm glad that you decided to repost it. It's very well written.
    I already gave you my 2 cents, I hope that was alright.