July 22, 2009
Abortion Weighs Down Healthcare Debate
President Obama said the public should become less focused on whether abortion would be covered under federal healthcare in an interview with Katie Couric last night.
KATIE COURIC: Do you favor a government option that would cover abortions?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: You know-- the-- the-- the-- what I think is important, at this stage, is not trying to micromanage what benefits are covered. Because I think we're still trying to get a framework. And my main focus is making sure that people have the options of high quality care at the lowest possible price.
As you know, I'm pro choice. But I think we also have a tradition-- of, in this town, historically, of not financing abortions as part of-- you know, government funded health care. And, you know, my-- you know, rather than wade into that issue at this point-- I think that it's appropriate for us to figure out how to just deliver on the cost savings, and not get distracted by the abortion debate at this station.
(h/t Kathryn Jean Lopez)
Obama's hope that it won't remain a distraction might not happen. Dan Gilgoff has a piece on how the abortion question might turn off more moderate evangelicals.
"I wouldn't call it a litmus test, but this is a prototype moment for the possibility of finding common ground," says the Rev. Joel Hunter, a prominent evangelical who is on Obama's faith advisory council. "If there is a doubt in the pro-life community about public funding of abortion, that will sink the healthcare
"Moderate, pro-life evangelicals like me will be very unhappy if healthcare reform ends up becoming a vehicle for government subsidizing, or mandatory coverage, of abortion," adds David Gushee, a Christian ethics professor at Mercer University who has consulted with the Obama White House on other issues.