The Story of the Good Samaritan Offers An Important Lesson on the
37th Anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Decision
Statement of Reverend Dr. Carlton W. Veazey, President and CEO,
Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
January 20, 2010
On the 37th anniversary of the historic Roe v. Wade decision (January
22), which has saved the lives and health of an untold number of
women estimated in the tens of thousands, the biblical story of
the Good Samaritan offers a lesson. The story teaches us that we
have a responsibility to care for everyone. A person in need should
not be left to suffer. Yet that is what happened with coverage for abortion in health care reform legislation. Whether or not the legislation moves forward in light of the election of Republican Scott Brown in Massachusetts to the Senate seat formerly held by Democrat Edward Kennedy, it is troubling that Congress
was willing to bargain away coverage of abortion services in exchange
for the votes to pass a bill.
It is wrong to use abortion as a bargaining chip. It is wrong to
sacrifice women's rights and health for any reason.
The bills of both the House of Representatives and the Senate are
troubling in the way they address the most vulnerable among us.
We are concerned that the House provision denying coverage for
abortion services in plans marketed through the new exchanges could
cause desperate or poor women to resort to unsafe measures and to
take personal medical risk. Women who have coverage for abortion
under existing private insurance could suffer a similar fate if
their insurer participated in a government-funded plan.
The Senate provision is unworkable: it requires everyone covered
by a plan that has any connection to government funding to write
two separate checks, one for abortion services and a separate one
for everything else covered by the plan.
Any national health plan that does not include the full range of
family planning services that promote reproductive health and freedom
fails to address women's health needs throughout all stages of life.
It would reinforce our two-tier health system - one for everyone
but the poor and a less comprehensive one for the poor. It would
be most harmful to low-income women (many of whom are women of color),
because the cycle of poverty often revolves around unintended and
On this Roe v. Wade anniversary, let us remember that lives have
been saved by access to safe, legal health care services. In the
name of social and economic justice, join me in calling on Congress
to include coverage for comprehensive reproductive health care in
reform legislation - both family planning services to reduce unintended
pregnancy and abortion for women who make that choice.