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Abortion to the fore on health care reform

Our Readers Who Comment are debating the morality of abortion and whether federal health care legislation should prohibit its funding.

The House-passed health care bill would sharply restrict the availability of coverage for abortions, which many insurance plans offer. As Alec MacGillis writes, "The amendment goes beyond long-standing prohibitions against public funding for abortions, limiting abortion coverage even for women paying for it without government subsidies."

Many readers cheer this position; many others abhor it. Some of the debate is based on the question of what role if any religious beliefs should play but there is also the underlying argument about whether government has any business in health care. Those who want a public option for health-care insurance are also concerned that the abortion issue will get in the way of the greater good. We still have a ways to go to join the rest of the civilized world in providing decent health care for all of us.

We'll start with go2goal, who kicked off an extended conversation in writing, "...The freedom of choice must be preserved - it is a heart renching decision that needs to be protected and preserved so a Medical doctor and his or her patient make the right decision. This right must NOT be impeded by any health care legislation....we have to stop trying to appease the religious right in this country..."

mike85 replied, "go2goal, you are way off base. The argument was not about freedom of choice, it was about the government paying for abortions. That is far different from freedom of choice. And, considering that the United States was founded on Jud[e]o-Christian ethics, the religious right is on target, at least constitutionally."

But 2009frank said, "Mike abortion is the dividing line between two world views. I would rather associate with a party that believes in Life and God as many Republicans do; than with the Liberal world view that prefers the termination of life and disassociation with God..."

DennyO wrote, "...The pro-choice groups protesting this amendment are free to come up with their own funding alternatives, maybe an insurance plan of their own, or fund raising. They should not expect the public to pay for abortions by compulsory premiums or taxes. That is too far fetched for a country which is so divided on the morality of abortions as is the United States..."

RobGinChicago offered, "Until men can get pregnant, they have no say on this issue, or at least no say that should have any 'sway'."

gamekid2k said, "So It took few weeks to pass the trillion dollar stimulus bill to bail out the irresponsible banks/institutions with out any major opposition.
Yet when it comes to health care, trillion dollar over 10 years is a big issue?"

quadibloc wrote, "I'm surprised the article put the emphasis on the abortion issue, when the question of a public option seems to be what will cause the most serious problems in the Senate. Of course, as a Canadian, I am mystified why it is so controversial in the U. S. even to adopt this strange patchwork system, when universal health care has been the norm in the rest of the industrialized world for decades."

Geowlittle said, "Lies lies lies. Abortions not funded? Of course they will be...This heath insurance bill is all about forcing government upon us albeit in an unconstitutional manner and has nothing to do with medicine. A government that has shown time and time again to be unable to do anything right has just been given dominion over your very lives."

rajarjames wrote, "...America is the only country in the civilised world without a publicly funded universal health care. This is badly needed and long overdue, and don't put unnecessary restrictions on abortions. Consider the person seeking abortion is your sister and treate as such with due understanding, compassion."

cdavidj said, "If you can step outside the emotion in this argument, it doesn't take long to realize that there is a question of constitutionality here. I don't think piggy backing some anti choice amendment onto the bill will stand the test. It irks and saddens me that this would be the issue that wing nuts would pull out as a last gasp at stopping reform."

concernedcitizen3 wrote, "We will be seeing lots of issues like this over what will or will not be covered under government mandated/run medical insurance plans.
Say hello to the world of Big Brother and goodbye to concepts like freedom, choice and, quite possibly, even sanity..."

willin46 asked, "Since when does the Conference of Catholic Bishops have veto power over a piece of legislation. Can't they lose their tax exempt status by lobbying Congress? When did the Pope dictate policy in the the United States of America? Don't we have separation of church and state or are Catholics exempt from following the US Constitution"

Maerzie replied, "I am a Roman Catholic, but I agree that if bishops keep sticking their noses in where they don't belong, the Catholic Church SHOULD lost its tax exempt status. Their job is to help FORM consciences. It is not to try to LEGISLATE consciences..."

And chrisbrown12 wrote, "...Abortion is a volatile issue but it has nothing to do with a law for health care. Let the religious crusaders pursue their agenda elsewhere. The church-goers need to make it clear whether their supposed religion includes the promotion of human suffering that accompanies the absence of medical insurance. A vote against a health care bill is a vote for human suffering..."

davebutcher74googlemailcom said, "After all the hoo-hah and debate whether to include abortion payments from Government funds, the truth remains--Deliberate abortion is nothing less than MURDER. It should be outlawed totally; just because it is possible does NOT make it acceptable."

We'll close with pomeroyt who wrote, "Abortion should not be prohibited, but funding it under subsidized health insurance will likely doom the bill to failure. Better to get the bill passed."

All comments on this article are here.

By Doug Feaver  |  November 9, 2009; 7:08 AM ET
Categories:  Abortion  | Tags: Abortion, Health-Care Reform  
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Next: Execution incites death penalty debate


The argument that people who don't believe in abortion shouldn't have to indirectly fund it with their tax dollars overgeneralizes in an absurd way.

There are lots of things my tax dollars pay for that I think are morally wrong -- the Iraq war, military aid to Israel, subsidies for corporate-industrial farming that destroys the environment. But it is in no way reasonable to for me to expect my tax dollars to pay for only those things that are in accordance with my moral values.

Consistency is clearly not important to those attacking government-funding of abortion. If your going get up in arms about this issue, let's also see some outrage at the other things your tax-dollars pay for: war, executions, the Blackwater payroll, etc. Were abortion to join the ranks of the federally funded, it would by no means be the worst thing that your tax dollars are paying for.

Posted by: granada | November 9, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Abortion is legal in this great and free country of ours. All things legal should be covered. It's called freedom, for all those that are opposed to abortion your have the freedom to have as many offspring as you wish.

Posted by: Woodstocknative | November 9, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

The abortion part of the bill will never be eliminated. The left will never allow that to happen. It is their biggest money maker. Now that the left wing radicals have full power they are proving to be the autocrates that they have always been. They will do anything for money and power and to hell with the people or the constitution.

Posted by: tri5 | November 9, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

How about this compromise: The House's anti-abortion provisions stay in the bill. In exchange, all statutes of limitations on child abuse are revoked, and every diocese of the Catholic Church has unlimited joint and several civil and criminal liability for child abuse.

Further, the Vatican will be subject to US law, including unlimited criminal and civil liability, if it in any way whatsoever aid or abets child molestation, including moving offending priests from one diocese to another.

Finally, the tax exemptions of every Catholic church and diocese will be revoked if even a single additional instance of Catholic child abuse occurs anywhere, or if the Church in any way aids or abets child abuse.

Posted by: Garak | November 9, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

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