Of the new measures Oregon has up for vote, Measure 106 involves a topic that is likely the most emotional and controversial: abortion. Measure 106 would prevent the use of government money, more specifically Medicaid and the Oregon Health Plan, from being used to pay for abortions.
Much of the rhetoric from those supporting 106 has been on emphasizing the cost to the taxpayers, with statements such as, “The Oregon Health Authority reports $24.4 million in taxpayer money was spent on more than 57,000 abortions covered under the Oregon Health Plan (OHP) since 2002.” While that may be true, if fiscal responsibility is the argument that those in support are using, then we must change our approach to this extremely emotional measure and look at it from a calculated perspective.
When calculated out, 24.4 million dollars on 57,000 abortions comes out to be $428.07 per procedure. While that doesn’t seem like that much money to pay out of pocket for most of us, this measure isn’t designed to prevent abortion for most of us – only for those who are too poor to afford healthcare for themselves or the procedure itself.
Those who are unable to afford the $428.07 are almost certainly on other government welfare programs, meaning that the long term cost of raising a baby will likely be much more expensive to taxpayers.
According to Parenting.com, the hospital fees for a birth alone cost $9,700 dollars – already 22.6 times more expensive than the procedure would have been. The government insurances, which are taxpayer funded, are the ones footing the hospital bills.
In addition, the government also gives welfare using the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. For a single mother and only one child, the government provides $228.00 a month in cash. In addition, they may receive up to $350 a month through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
These programs are great, and I believe they’re an essential part of any society. However, they are costly over the long term. If a family is receiving $578.00 a month, not including insurance and medical costs that a baby might have, that adds up to over $6,800 a year. Families can receive TANF for up to five years, and can receive SNAP until their children are over 18. This means that in total, a single mother and her one child could receive up to $89,000 in welfare payments from taxpayers.
Between the welfare payments and the hospital bills, taxpayers are looking at a cost of almost $100,000. This estimate also doesn’t include insurance or childcare subsidies for the child, both of which can be extremely expensive.
If a financial argument and cost to taxpayers is the premise of those who support 106, it is a very weak premise. The cost of raising a child is far greater than paying for an abortion, and can sometimes even be upwards of 200 times the cost.
The other major argument of those in support of the measure is that it isn’t fair to force those who don’t believe in abortion to pay for it with their tax dollars.
While this may be true, life isn’t always perfectly fair. It’s not fair to pacifists that their tax dollars fund wars. It’s not fair to those that don’t have children whose tax dollars go to schools. It isn’t fair that people have to fund a police department, even if they don’t commit crimes. And yet, we do it because it’s what’s best for society.
Preventing low income citizens from terminating unwanted pregnancies is unfair to everyone. Those who couldn’t afford the abortion might become permanently stuck in poverty because they were forced into raising a child, and taxpayers would have to pay 200 times the original amount they would have had to originally in order to support those people.
When calculated out, measure 106 simply does not make sense from a financial standpoint. But the problem with measure 106 is that it isn’t actually about what’s best for Oregon or what makes the most sense for taxpayers; it’s an attempt, at the cost of both low income residents and taxpayers, to veto abortions in a state that has already decided they should be legal. Measure 106 isn’t a solution; it’s an expense our state can’t afford.