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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Sunday, February 3 ,2002

Latest child insurance plan a cynical ploy

There is something sadly cynical about the Bush administration's decision to offer government-backed medical insurance to low-income pregnant women.

What could be wrong with that? It's the way the program is structured.

The medical insurance would be offered not to the prospective mother, but to the developing fetus. In effect, it is federal recognition of the "personhood" of the fetus.

This simply bolsters the argument of many in the Bush administration that the fetus has all the legal rights of any other person, which would inevitably form grounds for outlawing abortion.

The program that would offer insurance to the unborn child is called the State Children's Health Insurance Program, which since 1997 has offered coverage to eligible children from birth to age 19.

Under that program, it is possible for a state to apply for waivers that would allow them to extend coverage to pregnant women. That's a far more sensible approach.

The debate over abortion is a profound one, with deeply held and sincere feelings on both sides of the argument. But it is an argument that should be approached directly.

This is a back-door effort to win the debate using our natural sympathies for young women who face the possibility of maternity and childbirth without adequate medical care.