Tabulating cost of abortion restrictions 'sickening,' congressman says

2013-07-13T18:30:00Z 2013-07-13T19:01:11Z Tabulating cost of abortion restrictions 'sickening,' congressman saysBy Dan Carden dan.carden@nwi.com, (317) 637-9078 nwitimes.com

INDIANAPOLIS | A northeast Indiana congressman lashed out at the Congressional Budget Office this week after the nonpartisan agency determined his proposed federal abortion restrictions would increase government spending.

U.S. Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Howe, is co-sponsor of a measure banning all abortions nationwide after 20 weeks gestation, except when needed to save the life of the mother or in the case of rape or incest, provided the crime has been reported to police.

The proposal was approved 228-196 by the Republican-controlled House on June 18. It is not expected to advance in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

CBO calculated that if Stutzman's plan became law, federal and state Medicaid spending would increase $395 million over the next decade as more women choose or have no option but to carry their pregnancies to term.

About 40 percent of all U.S. births are paid for by Medicaid.

The agency said the actual cost also could be much higher depending on how many women seek abortions prior to 20 weeks. The increase in government spending is based on just a quarter of the 11,000 women who annually abort after 20 weeks giving birth instead.

Stutzman, who has claimed his mother considered aborting him in 1975, was appalled that CBO would figure out how much his proposed abortion restrictions would cost.

"The suggestion that the destruction of innocent life saves taxpayers money is sickening," Stutzman said. "While CBO's shockingly callous view of human life might be shared by the enforcers of China's one-child policy, such heartlessness has no place in the United States."

In Indiana, just 40 of the state's 8,808 abortions last year came after 12 weeks gestation, with none occurring after 20 weeks, according to the state health department. A 2011 state law makes it difficult to obtain an abortion after 20 weeks, though it is not banned.

Overall, abortions in Indiana have declined 47 percent from the 1980 peak of 16,505. There were 6.4 abortions for every 1,000 live births in 2012.

Meanwhile the state's infant mortality rate remains stagnant with 7.62 children dying in their first year of life for every 1,000 births, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Just six places have higher infant death rates than Indiana — Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Washington, D.C., Ohio and Delaware.

Stutzman describes himself as a fiscal and social conservative and supports cutting federal aid programs to balance the budget. He recently led the House effort to approve farm subsidy legislation that for the first time in 40 years omits funding for food stamps.

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