By now we all know about Bush’s politically stupid and unconscionable veto of Congress’s bill expanding S-CHIP, the health care program that would cover kids whose families are not poor enough to get medicaid but who cannot pay for private healthcare.

SCHIP is a laudable program, and Bush’s rationale for the veto is just mind boggling. But there is a sort of seedy anti-abortion underbelly to the whole SCHIP debate. Carol Joffe explained when the SCHIP story first broke in August.

But Bush’s deplorable response to expanding SCHIP is not just about opposing government provided services. Like so much else in his presidency, his administration’s record on SCHIP is also entangled in anti-abortion politics. In 2002, his Department of Health and Human Services issued a regulation that stipulated “unborn children” — but not the pregnant women carrying them! — were eligible for SCHIP funds. This move contradicted well established standards within the medical community. Both the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Pediatrics have stated that the pregnant women and her fetus should be treated together.

Immediately after this regulation was issued, health care providers feared that funding for crucial pregnancy-related services that did not directly relate to the “unborn child” — such as pain medication during delivery and postpartum services — would be denied to women under SCHIP. However the twelve states that have elected to use SCHIP funds for pregnancy care have largely managed to get around this restriction through various maneuvers, and the worst fears of massive amounts of denied care did not materialize.

Now, it’s ridiculous that the only way poor and struggling pregnant women in this country can get healthcare is through their fetuses. But at least it was something. But, mindful that Congress may override his veto, Bush is already trying to goad states to purge pregnant women from the SCHIP rolls.

Bush also said that six states project that they will spend more SCHIP money on adults than they do on children in this fiscal year. However, those states got federal permission, in many instances during the time Bush has been in office, to cover adults. The president urged both parties to come together to support a bill “that moves adults off this children’s program.”

Bitch, Ph.D.
makes the consequences of such a move clear:

SCHIP covers children *and pregnant women*. Moving adults off it means not providing health care to pregnant women. Make sure that anyone you talk to about this knows that.

Culture of life, my mama ass.

Seems like Bush is starting to abandon Americans even before they’re born (he abandoned their mothers a long long time ago).

UPDATE [BY SL]: I believe we once again need to return to Barney Frank’s dictum that to Republicans life begins at conception and ends at birth.

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