Health Care and Abortion

March 7th, 2010

By Tom Carter

Taxpayer funding for abortions is a touchy issue in the House in regard to health care legislation.  The only way the House barely managed to pass their version of the legislation in the first place was by the Democrats permitting Representative Bart Stupak (D-MI) to add an amendment that strictly prohibits direct or indirect funding of abortions with tax dollars.  The Democratic majority, overwhelmingly pro-choice, went along with it because it was clear that the bill wouldn’t pass otherwise.

Now, as the House and Senate try to figure out how to get to one bill that both houses can agree on, the abortion issue is back — big surprise.  Stupak is saying that the Senate bill does not adequately address the abortion issue and that he and 10 or 12 other Democrats in the House will vote against it.  That would probably kill the whole reform effort.  However, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said,

I will not have it turned into a debate on (abortion). Let me say it clearly: we all agree on the three following things. … One is there is no federal funding for abortion. That is the law of the land. It is not changed in this bill. There is no change in the access to abortion. No more or no less: It is abortion neutral in terms of access or diminution of access. And, third, we want to pass a health care bill.

(Politico has a good article with analysis and background on the abortion issue.) 

I just don’t get it, from several perspectives:

  • If existing law — the Hyde Amendment — prohibits federal funding of abortions and the Senate bill doesn’t change that, as the Democrats maintain, then why won’t Stupak & Friends go along with it?  Are they just posturing for their pro-life constituents?
  • Or if, as the Democratic majority says, the reform legislation doesn’t change current law and wouldn’t permit funding of abortions, then why would they be against more specific language to that effect?  Or have they been lying about it, hoping to slip the legislation through without clear prohibition of abortion funding?
  • And why have so few people pointed out the obvious fact that through huge tax subsidies, the taxpayers are already paying for abortion?  The cost of employer-provided health insurance, unlike most in-kind compensation, is exempt from taxation, and in many cases insurance pays for abortions.  That “lost” revenue is money out of the taxpayers’ accounts, so to speak.

Here’s something else I don’t get:  what’s the big deal?  Abortion is a legal health care procedure, and paying for it with federal funds wouldn’t be any different from paying for other things that some taxpayers oppose.  Some religious weirdos won’t go to doctors when they’re sick — why should they have to contribute to other people doing something they disapprove of?  Some folks are bitterly opposed to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars — why do they have to pay for them through their taxes?  There are those who feel that the UN is a useless failure and they want the U.S. to get out — but their tax money is still used to fund about 25 percent of all UN costs.  The list is very long, indeed.

A significant majority of Americans support legal abortion and would not want to see Roe v. Wade overturned.  So why can’t tax dollars be used to fund something that the majority supports?  Why is it different from so many other kinds of federal spending that people oppose, in larger numbers in some cases?  If it’s a religious issue, then it’s invalid — separation of church and state, and all that.  If it’s just another of those things that a minority feel very strongly about, then so what?  Welcome to democracy, folks.

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2 Responses to “Health Care and Abortion”

  1. Lisa |

    I grow weary of the abortion debate but if in this case it precludes passage of the health care bill, then so be it. I always find it amusing that just hours after the likes of Joe Biden and the late Teddy Kennedy receive Holy Communion during Catholic Mass they find themselves on Sunday morning talk shows pontificating their liberal social views that promote pro-choice. Do these people ever stand by their convictions? Perhaps this is why so many people like Sarah Palin?

  2. Tom |

    I agree, Lisa (except maybe for the Sarah Palin part). One of the problems with the health care and abortion issue, as I indicated, is it’s almost impossible to tell who’s being untruthful, who’s deluded, and what the agenda is.

    I also agree completely about the hypocrisy of Catholic politicians who are pro-choice. I wrote about that in Catholics and Abortion.

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