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November 18, 2009

Abortion Remains Central in Health Care Debates

Debates over whether the federal government should fund abortion became central in passing final health care legislation after the House passed the Stupak amendment, which bans funding abortion. “The simple math in the House suggests the health bill wouldn't have passed without the votes of the moderates who came to the ‘yes’ side after the Stupak amendment,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

Some pro-choice critics of the amendment say that it goes far beyond previous limits placed on federal funding of abortions, diminishing the legal standing of abortion based on Roe v. Wade. Pro-choice advocates are determined to stop the bill from passing the Senate with the amendment attached. Tuesday, the pro-choice Center for Reproductive Rights launched a new ad aimed at warning viewers that Congress could “ban abortion coverage millions of women already have.”

The Conference of Catholic Bishops is pushing back against pro-choice lobbyists in order to retain the amendment, denying in a recent assessment that the Stupak amendment would affect existing access to abortion because it only applies to the use of government money and not private insurance options. (The Wall Street Journal and National Public Radio also break down the terms of the amendment and agree that the affect of the amendment will be minimal.) The Los Angeles Times noted that the Catholic organization, which has been lobbying the federal government to provide universal health insurance for the past three decades, wielded significant influence in the addition of the amendment because the organization will not support a bill that covers abortion.

President Obama reportedly wants to strip the amendment from the bill before it passes the Senate, and several pro-choice senators have spoken out against the amendment, as well. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) claimed Tuesday that there were not enough pro-life senators to retain the amendment in the Senate version of the bill:

"Harry Reid's not going to put the Stupak language in the bill, I'd be certain. ... Then the Republicans will try to amend it into the bill, and they will be unsuccessful; they won't even get close to 50 votes."

The pro-life Susan B. Anthony List has focused on pressuring Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to support the amendment, calling on Reid to live up to his “pro-life commitments.” Reid is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which does not condone abortion.

Obama adviser David Axelrod did not rule out the idea that Obama would veto his own reform plan, according to Politico:

Axelrod said Obama hasn't said whether he'll sign or veto legislation over its stance on the so-called public option and won't say whether the abortion language could cause Obama to oppose the legislation. "He believes both these issues can and will be worked through before it reaches his desk," the Obama adviser said.

However, Axelrod did acknowledge that the abortion funding limits offered by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) ran counter to Obama's stated desire to avoid using the health care bill to change the federal government's stance towards abortion.

"The bill that Congress passed does change the status quo," Axelrod said on CNN. "There are discussions ongoing about how to adjust it accordingly."

Reid plans to unveil legislation today, with a vote to proceed expected by the end of the week.


What really should be in place instead of the Stupak amendment in the health reform bill is an opt in/out policy so that those with pro-life or pro-choice beliefs can choose whether or not to fund abortion from their taxes without holding the well being of the general public at the ransom of divergent ideologies.

Too many people are hurt by the current system and the abortion debate should be excluded from these health reform efforts in an effort to do the good thing and care for the weakest amongst us.

Agreed Wellescent.

I get so tired of these all or nothing divisive politics

@Wellescent: "...an opt in/out policy..." Do the in utero babies get to opt in/opt out, too?

Gosh Dan

Did you at all understand what Wellescent said? You could have simply asked what he or she meant, you know.

@Anthony: Perhaps I didn't understand. I stand corrected. Sorry. Wellescent, please elaborate upon your comment "opt in/opt out." I'm under the impression that we are dealing with federal monies being spent and "opt in/opt out" would be then for the states to decide: states could opt in/opt out. Says Stupak: "The amendment prohibits federal funds for abortion services in the public option. It also prohibits individuals who receive affordability credits from purchasing a plan that provides elective abortions. However, it allows individuals, both who receive affordability credits and who do not, to separately purchase with their own funds plans that cover elective abortions. It also clarifies that private plans may still offer elective abortions." Perhaps your opt in/opt out is meant soley for individuals. Maybe a little box to check on our tax forms if we want our tax money to go for abortion. Again, sorry. I don't see many prochoice politicians agreeing to that if that is the case.
Seems like Stupak is neutral as regards the morality of abortion. It doesn't stop women from getting an abortion. Abortion supporters simply don't get federal monies for abortion. But women who want an abortion still may get one. Maybe the real issue for pro-abortion supporters is, after all - money.

Wellescent and Anthony, I have to disagree that the Stupak amendment is "holding the well being of the general public at the ransom of divergent ideologies" or "all or nothing divisive politics". To the contrary, the bill without Stupak would have forced taxpayers to fund elective abortions at the federal level, and THAT is needlessly divisive.

On reflection, the Stupak amendment is not really Pro-life because it in no way diminishes abortion rights. Think about it: since when does abortion rights mean forcing taxpayers across the country to fund your abortion? That's not being Pro-choice, that's forcing taxpayers to subsidize your choice. And Stupak just said, we're not going to put up with that. I say, good for them.

By restricting abortion funding, the Hyde Amendment and the Stupak Amendment affects only those who can least afford medical care- poor women.

I trust that women are capable of making difficult, emotional medical decisions in consultation with their families and physicians and if that means my tax dollars are used to support those decisions than that is what is part of living in a democracy.

It's not your tax dollars that are at stake here, Bronte: it's everybody's taxes. A democracy means majority rule, minority rights, and there are strong arguments that forcing everyone to fund ethically troubling medical procedures violates the will of the majority and the rights of the minority. If so, then federal funding for elective abortions is precisely anti-democratic.

These all are the useless issues taken by people. Why are they not apposing when its against their own right, when its against their own things, values.? Just for the sake of arguing it is the issue otherwise nobody in real sence has got any objection.

In a country that has 360 million people, it is impossible to have every tax dollar of every person be spent in a way that every person supports.

Why do you not trust that women are capable of making private, medical decisions? God made women to be capable.

Why should poor women with limited financial resources be cut off from abortion? That is deeply "ethically troubling."

@Bronte: It is not unconstitutional or ethically troubling to withhold tax dollars for abortions. Please explain your reasoning. Poor women can still get abortions. They just have to pay for it out of their own pocket.

With what money do you recommend women with no financial resources available to them use to pay for a legal, private, medical service that can range in cost from a few hundred dollars to several thousand?

I work in the trenches at a medical clinic with women and families who are doing everything they can to stay afloat, especially right now. I see women who suffer devastating complications with wanted pregnancies. Why should these American women be cut off from a medical service because of their socioeconomic status?

God does not want us to turn our back on these great families in need.

Bronte: Do these women never hear of birth control? What's wrong with them that they would be so careless? At least birth control would be far cheaper than an abortion. And safer for the fetus as well (unless RU486 is used). It's one thing to provide money to help someone who is ill and cannot pay for medical attention, quite another to provide a woman tax dollars so she can kill her baby. Count me out.

Dan: There is nothing "wrong" or "careless" about the women and families I see. That is outrageous to even suggest.

They are just seeking care.

Can you please recommend what American families with no financial resources do to secure a safe, private, medical procedure that they are legally entitled to but can not afford?

I appreciate the conversation.

@Bronte: That medical procedure - abortion - that they are entitled to purchase with their own money is not a welfare entitlement. And getting pregnant is easily preventable by visiting any Walgreens. Remember, the primary justification of contraceptives to begin with was to prevent unwanted pregnancies. I don't think you will generate too much sympathy among conservative christians for women who cannot afford to have a baby, who won't buy contraceptives, but remain sexually active. Most will look at them and say, "What were you thinking?"
And by the way, do you understand why conservative Christians are morally opposed to killing babies?

@CL: There you go again, CL. Making sweeping generalizations and gross exagerations. (Haven't I told you a million times "don't exagerate"?) But I forgive you for your mischaracterizations. (No joke here, either.) Conservative christians would be the first to encourage the above mentioned family to have the baby and would actually dig into their own pockets to help them to survive so as not to kill the baby. (Why we'd probably even help dad find a job to help him retain his dignity and ability to provide for his new baby.) Progressives and the like are similar to the Romans at the time of Christ, in that if a child was unwanted, the parents would simply kill the baby. It was the early Christians who would save them. To be honest, tho, you probably would only endorse offing the baby in utero through legal means. But as for me and my house - thanks but we'll pass on giving tax dollars to off baby. Nope. As long as prolife citizens have any say in this issue, our tax dollars won't be used to kill babies. However, you may put your money where your mouth is and contribute to the slaughter of the innocent. You might even get a ring side seat in an aboratoruim and watch one take place. I would be interested in hearing your executive summary.

@Bronte: "Can you please recommend what American families with no financial resources do to secure a safe, private, medical procedure that they are legally entitled to but can not afford?"

Post the address of your clinic and its needs and see how much $ you'll get from Friends of Abortion charities. I'm sure CL will be willing to help out.

@Bronte: My quote: "I don't think you will generate too much sympathy among conservative christians for women who cannot afford to have a baby, who won't buy contraceptives, but remain sexually active." Let me qualify that statement. Many, many Christians go out of their way to help provide for women in crisis - married/unmarried - who are pregnant and need help. And you will find churches open their hearts and wallets with the practical things that a woman needs when bringing another little baby into the world. What we won't help with, tho, is the killing of the baby. Do you understand why? Bonte, you've been gracious. Thank you. One last thing: but you mention "They are just seeking care." Care? Killing the baby is now euphemistically referred to as "care"? Shades of a brave new world! Just like CL and other Progressives are not content to accept the law prohibiting using public monies for abortion, so we christian conservatives are not content to accept your belief that since abortion is a legal procedure it must be a moral procedure. Legal does not necessarily mean moral.

Dan: With God's hand, I will continue to work with these families with compassion and trust and without judgment or blame.

I of course wish you the best and again appreciate the conversation.


@Bronte: Rhetorical question: why is there no great outpouring of financial support from proabortion supporters to help families like yours with their abortion needs?

CL: Don't paint with a too broad brush. I happen to know some antiabortion protesters and they don't scream and condemn. They protest quietly, offer counsel to women going in to the clinic and they pray silently. People are not all the same. Just b/c some act stupid doesn't mean all do. Just like a lot of homosexuals would not like to be identified with the crazies in the gay parades. I would not support or endorse any so-called Christian that stood outside an abortion clinic and screamed eptithets at women going in. And as far as providing clothing etc. to those women, the church I attend purchase items for women and children in a women's shelter. We also give support to several homes for at-risk children. We also support a missionary who is teaching Central American Indians to raise fish to sell. He has taken this ministry to Africa, too. In addition, the elders in my churhc, has given an out-of-work man a job to help him support his family.

I just thought I'd throw something out here: it came out in the news during the past two days that an abortion protester calmly approached a woman who I believe was going into a clinic to receive and abortion. The woman proceeded to pull a knife, hold it to the protester's throat, and say, "Don't talk to me! I don't want to hear this!" Sounds like another nice, calm individual who is pro-abortion (pro-choice is a misnomer since many tend to shove abortion down pro-lifers' throats).

As for the discussion on contraceptives, an easy way to resolve this is to encourage only abstinence based education. There's only one way to get pregnant and, if you eliminate that method, there's no issue. Also, I want to say ahead of time that, while current efforts at abstinence only education do not seem effective, those involved in studies are only encouraged to practice abstinence during a relatively short time in the sex-ed class. Studies should be performed on those who have spent years going through abstinence-based sex-ed. Additionally, before anyone cites the recent CDC study, this study has been proven faulty by those within the CDC and therefore cannot be considered a reliable source.

Bronte and CL, thanks for your comments.

While funding abortion with federal dollars is legally permissible, this is a case where "everything is lawful for me, but not everything is beneficial." Legal precedent aside (thanks for the reference, CL), I find government restraint in funding ethically troublesome activities to be shrewd.

This is especially true on the most contentious issues of our day. Is it not better spend funds on more acceptable activities? The more diverse a people's composition, the more applicable the argument: more for federal than state, more for state than local, etc. This all fits into an Augustinian understanding of government: it ought to be a compromise of wills for the benefit of all the people rather than for factional gain (our Founding Fathers' concern over faction suggests they shared a similar understanding).

To fund elective abortion federally is not only to put a factional interest above the common good, but a factional interest that a large minority regards as perhaps the nation's greatest national sin. And any government, much more a democratic government, that forces a large minority not only to allow but support this sin, is imprudent. In these hard and bitterly divisive times (e.g., Glenn Beck), unduly testing our democratic fabric is most unwise.

Cybereagle, ABC education (Abstinence, Be faithful, and use a Condom) is superior for reducing both unwanted pregnancies and STD transmission. Abstinence should be taught, but not only abstinence. ABC is far more for the common good and less for factional interest than federal abortion funding.

Lord God is greatest.Do not blame God, blame the devil.Create security teams. Chamelon evil teams at stores Watchout for satanist liberals.Abortion is wrong. Babys are a blessing. A new cell, a new person!! A person went to a anti abortionist church that was friends with abortionist politician then later more abortionist and corr offi showed up to the church and inputed abortion ideas. maybe no money ideas or just do not want a kid. Comfort and partying is not cooler than righteoussness. i did not realize about thousands people for evil armys. Il hills. Scared and corrupt offi.Multi schemes going on at one time. Then terror. heard that devil then will eventually go after your life. I praise Lord God for another day. 1 corinth 14;26.Rev 12:9. Gal 3;3. cHOOSE RIGHTEOUSSNESS NOT SELF. be very careful. Corrupt gov! I like true glo, springfield 1911, magnavox,. very comfortable low height seats. And sirloin burgers, and fries! property in Il hills area. Need true careful christian polirticians in MO. Say no to antichristianity. God is greatest.

@ Brendan and CL

Perhaps we should have some sort of opt out option on our tax forms. You know, like a box you can check that says you don't want your taxes going to wars or abortions etc. So then taxes would still go into a general pot but with some sort of complicated macro that divides up the tax pie.

Doable? No? :-)

We don't live in a Democracy, we live in a Republic.

Anthony, you are understanding the point that I was attempting to make in that rather than have individuals be forced to pay or not pay for abortions, they should have the right to choose how their tax dollars are spent in this manner. This may be complicated to implement, but it forces neither side to feel that their beliefs are being trampled upon. It also ensures a pool so that poor women can be covered much more so than they are with a system decided by one's ability to pay.

Depending on the system chosen, individuals would either be opting to not have some of their money directed toward abortion coverage or would be opting to have some directed toward coverage. Given the deep moral significance of the issue and that there is little chance of either side changing the mind of the other, it is best to agree to disagree. We can then find other areas in which joint efforts can be directed toward the common good.

The types of girls who get abortions are usually upper class white girls. Park you car across the street of an abortion clinic and count if you don't believe me. Also pay attention to the christian symbols on thier cars such the fish, God is the pilot stickers, and etc.