Taxpayer Funding for Abortions

December 19th, 2009

By Tom Carter

Health Care DebateOne of the biggest controversies in the health care debate has been the issue of whether taxpayer dollars will be used to pay for abortions.  There’s already a law on the books, the Hyde Amendment, that forbids spending federal funds for abortion.  However, those who oppose federal funding of abortions feel that the prohibition must be more clearly stated in health care reform legislation.

The House handled the problem with the adoption of an amendment to their health care bill by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.).  The amendment severely restricts funding for abortions and was voted for by a number of Democrats who oppose it, just to keep the process going.

In the Senate, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) wanted the same kind of amendment, but that didn’t work.  So, he indicated that he wouldn’t support the health care bill.  But now it seems that he will, after he got a huge Mary Landrieu-style bribe for his state.  In effect, the Senate used some of our money to bribe a couple of senators for their votes on a bill that will spend much more of our money to do things that a lot of us are against. 

No wonder a clear majority of Americans oppose the whole idea of health care reform at this point.

But what’s the big deal on federal funding for abortions as part of health care reform?

Taxpayer dollars are already spent on a wide variety of things that many people oppose.  Those against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan still have to pay taxes that fund the wars.  People who dislike the military and specific programs, like nuclear weapons, still pay for the DOD budget.  Folks who think of the UN as a useless, corrupt, third-world jobs program still contribute to the UN with their tax dollars.  People who aren’t religious pay taxes to support religious organizations and activities.  Taxes are used to subsidize corn growers, although some citizens consider ethanol programs to be counterproductive and others don’t eat the animals that are fed corn.  Anti-smoking vigilantes who suffer coughing spells if they see someone light up a smoke 100 yards away pay taxes that go to tobacco growers.  People who are allergic to peanuts watch their tax dollars go to peanut farmers, whose products can kill them far faster than tobacco.

The list of things that we pay for, even though some of us strongly oppose them, is almost endless.

So, again, what’s the big deal on federal tax dollars paying for abortions?  Abortion is as legal as anything else the federal government spends money on, and the amount that would be spent is trivial, compared to everything else that’s part of health care reform.   

In any case, it ain’t over ’til the (insert politically correct term) sings.  If the Senate passes its bill, which mandates abortion coverage but requires an accounting trick to separate funds used to pay for abortions, there will still have to be a reconciliation with the House bill, which is far more restrictive.  Assuming the conference committee can resolve that conflict, and depending on how it’s resolved, members of the Senate or the House could still vote it down.

It’s a shame that partisanship and the self-serving behavior of politicians have gotten us to this point.  And just think — they could have passed a bill of probably no more than 20 pages that could have done a lot to reduce the costs of health care and expand access.  Or, failing that, they could have just done nothing.

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16 Responses to “Taxpayer Funding for Abortions”

  1. Brian Bagent |

    Moral equivalence should never be used to justify anything. Moral equivalence indeed validates the “slippery slope” argument.

  2. d |

    The big boned woman? I don’t like medicare paying for viagra or penile implants,not necessary for your health,but it does,anyway.I’d rather pay for unwanted pregnancies,unwanted ,possibly abused children, termination,than old mens’joy,but it’s not up to me.We don’t get to vote on it,but we should.

  3. Brian Bagent |

    What I’m saying is that it is insufficient to assert that “since we are already paying for ‘X,’ even though ‘X’ is ethically repugnant and we should not be paying for it, we are then justified in paying for ‘Y’ because it is ethically repugnant, too.”

    The only people that generally come to mind that find it acceptable are legislators and teenagers.

  4. Tom |

    What you say is true, Brian. But that wasn’t my point. We’re already paying, through taxes, for all kinds of things we don’t support and wouldn’t pay for individually. Why is federal funding of abortion so different?

  5. Brian Bagent |

    Tom, that is precisely the point. Your statement fits my syllogism exactly.

  6. Brianna |

    What Brian is saying is that, rather than use the fact that the government already pays for things many people don’t want to see it pay for as a justification for doing more of it, maybe we should get the government to start paying for fewer things instead.

  7. Tom |

    I agree with both of you — just because taxpayers pay for some things that we shouldn’t doesn’t mean that we should pay for yet one more thing. A lot of dumb decisions obviously doesn’t justify another dumb decision.

    My point is that since we’re already paying for so many things that some taxpayers disagree with, why has the issue of federal funding for abortion become so prominent?

  8. Brian Bagent |

    Perhaps because it is so morally repugnant to so many people.

    I think these issues should probably revolve around proportionality (although how that might work, other than what we already have, I’m not certain). With abortion, there is no clear majority for either side, ie there are enough people that find it unsavory that they do not want their tax dollars paying for them.

    This republic was established to try and prevent a tyranny of the majority or of the minority. But, the founders also recognized that there would be times that the majority’s opinion was so overwhelming and so well-founded that the minority would have little choice. I think the existence of the military falls under this category. One has every right to be a pacifist, but there is a large enough majority that agrees with paying for a military that we have it.

    Denying federal funding to abortion doesn’t deprive any woman who wants one from getting one. In almost all cases, an abortion is an elective surgical procedure. We don’t (or shouldn’t be if we are) use the treasury to pay for breast enhancements, for LASER eye surgeries, for liposuctions, for veneers, for facelifts… So why should the money come out of the public till for abortions?

  9. Brianna |

    Ah. That makes more sense.

  10. Michael |

    We should not fund any medical procedure that takes a human life. End of statement. God created us and one of the ten commandments is “Thy shalt not kill”. Abortionists can argue all day long but the fact is abortion is killing a human baby. And don’t tell me that it is not formed yet. If it wasn’t formed some, then why after an abortion do they lay out the parts to make sure they got it all? And if they are pro-choice then why don’t they offer the mother both sides of the argument in the front office? If it is quote “just tissue” then why aren’t doctors required to show the mom-to-be the “TISSUE” with a sonogram before she decides? Because she wouldn’t do it if she saw the baby, thats why. And don’t doctors take a vow to save lives any time they can? Talk about a conflict of interest! Ever notice that abortions are done at abortion clinics instead of at a hospital? I guess if you took a real oath I would know where you work, not wouldn’t I? Just a few thoughts to mull over…

  11. Tom |

    “We should not fund any medical procedure that takes a human life.”

    Does that apply to the death penalty, in which doctors or other health care professionals are involved in killing people? What about physician-assisted suicide?

  12. d |

    What about an eye for an eye? What about the Bible telling fathers they have the right to kill the rapist of their wife and children? Aborted babies are not wanted,usually by anyone,will you support and take care of them all,Michael?Most of the antiabortionist folk do not have any plans to adopt these kids, or any way for our society to care for these children.Yes,womenand men, ought to have more responsibility,but would you rather see these children beaten,abused,neglected,by awful mothers and absent or worse fathers? The Govornment pays for viagra,for goodness sake,but not for the prevention of unwanted children? This is the real shame. Abortion is legal,and done in clinics,probably because of the folks who are opposed to it,not having to witness it,for your sake.

  13. Brianna |

    I think everybody should remember that the debate isn’t really about whether or not women are going to have abortions. Women have been aborting unwanted pregnancies since before recorded history; you’re not going to stop them by making the act illegal any more than prohibition stopped people from getting drunk. What the debate is really about is whether it’s going to be legal or not, and thus whether it’ll happen safely in clinics via sterile procedure or unsafely in back alleys with coathangers.

  14. d |

    I agree totally. Save one life,if you can’t save both.

  15. Brian Bagent |

    Michael, it isn’t necessary to invoke God to demonstrate that abortion is unethical. But that aside, this is about whether or not we are going to be using the treasury to pay for elective procedures.

    What this amounts to is more, not less, government involvement in decisions best left to patients and their health care team. Involve the government, and from the perspective of the health care team, there are ALWAYS strings attached. Government rules and regs have done such a sterling job so far of containing health care costs that I cannot even begin to imagine what this is going to save us. I mean, wow, look what the department of education has done for primary and secondary education in this country over the last 30 years. Look what HUD has done for public housing. Look at what the so-called “war on poverty” has done for our inner cities. Look at what the department of labor has done for heavy industry in this country. Look at what the FTC and the SEC have done for the banking and financial industry in this country.

    Yeah, we definitely need more government involvement in our lives. Not less.

  16. Terri |

    Brian— great comments but find a way to stop Government

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