Health Care Reform Is The New Abortion Debate Battleground

Illustration for article titled Health Care Reform Is The New Abortion Debate Battleground

In a country where 15 percent of the population is without health insurance at any given time, you'd think that the focus of a debate about reforming a broken system would not be about abortion. You'd be wrong.


Both the pro-choice and anti-abortion movement are upset about the potential inclusion or exclusion of abortion funding in the upcoming health care reform bill, though neither side agrees whether it's definitely going to be excluded or definitely included. The National Review's K-Lo thinks the funding will be in, and that will be the end of the world as we know it.

But Obama is now pushing a health-care plan that in its various congressional iterations could "result in the greatest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade," according to the National Right to Life Committee.

This plan, and the president's record - which errs on the side of death when it comes to international abortion funding and embryo-destroying stem-cell research - aren't the only signs of a deadly change in Washington. A shameful acceptance of abortion as a fact of life is creeping into mainstream establishment culture.

Because, obviously, not accepting the existence of abortion kept women from doing it for thousands of years.

K-Lo's piece ignores what the President said last week: namely, that since Congress has generally agreed not to appeal the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits Medicare from covering abortions, he assumes that an appeal of that amendment won't be on the table.

"I'm pro-choice, but I also think we have a tradition in this town, historically, of not financing abortions as part of government funded healthcare."

Mind you, the debate about abortion funding in the bill isn't actually about the Hyde Amendment of Medicare funding of abortions. The debate in Congress is whether abortion coverage will even be allowed to be considered by the Department of Health and Human Services as part of the public option — which is to say they one that, if you don't have employer-sponsored health care, you would be able to buy into with your very own money and which would not be government funded.


Frances Kissling at Salon at least knows the difference between abortion coverage in the public option and the Hyde Amendment, though her piece assumes K-Lo and her ideological colleagues will be successful.

The healthcare plan has now been delayed. The longer it takes to pass a plan the more momentum against including coverage for abortion — and possibly contraception — will build. If the past is any predictor of the future, then there is a good chance there will be limits on government funding for abortions in the healthcare package, if not outright exclusion.


Now, there's no evidence that there's a grassroots movement to eliminate birth control coverage from the public option — in fact, increasing contraceptive access is part of Obama's common-ground-on-abortion bill recently introduced in Congress, so it seems unlikely that eliminating it from the public option will come to pass. Whether the bill will remain silent on abortion coverage or not is an open question, and that the bill won't revoke the Hyde Amendment on Medicare funding for the abortions seems likely. But the sky-is-falling rhetoric from both sides does make it clear that advocates really, really want their grassroots supporters to weigh in with Congress and are willing to play a little loose with the rhetoric to make that happen. And that seems less than helpful.

Human Life Is More Than A Distraction [National Review]
Obama Abortion Backtrack Shows He's All Rhetoric, No Fight [US News & World Report]
The Feds Should Fund Abortion [Salon]


Related: Culture of Death [Slate]

Earlier: To Conservatives, Not Banning Abortion Is A "Hidden Abortion Mandate"
Health Insurance, Anti-Abortion Amendments, & Howard Dean's Big Brass Balls



How will it be worded in the bill? Does the public option not pay for "elective" abortion? Does it not pay for any D&C, even after miscarriage? Everything seems so vague.