Abortion and health care reform

I am actually quite sympathetic to pro-life Democrats, but their latest efforts to try and sabotage health care reform are rather infuriating:

While House leaders are moving toward a vote on health-care legislation
by the end of the week, enough Democrats are threatening to oppose the
measure over the issue of abortion to create a question about its
passage.

House leaders were still negotiating Monday with the bloc of
Democrats concerned about abortion provisions in the legislation,
saying that they could lead to public funding of the procedure. After
an evening meeting of top House Democrats,  Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (Md.) said, "We are making progress," but added that they had not reached an agreement.

The outcome of those talks could be crucial in deciding the fate of the
health-care bill. Democrats need the vast majority of their caucus to
back the bill, since nearly all congressional Republicans have said
they will oppose the legislation.

"I will continue whipping my colleagues to oppose bringing the bill
to the floor for a vote until a clean vote against public funding for
abortion is allowed,"  Rep. Bart Stupak
(D-Mich.) said Monday in a statement. He said last week that 40
Democrats could vote with him to oppose the legislation — enough to
derail the bill.

Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, cast Stupak as
"attempting to ban abortion coverage in the private insurance market." 

In this case, Keenan is exactly right.  This is not pro-choice hyperbole.  A major aspect of reform is getting private plans to compete in health exchanges.  Low-income Americans will be able to buy insurance through these exchanges with finanical help from the government to afford a health plan.  Stupak and the like are basically demanding that either: 1) these private insurance companies selling on the exchange not be allowed to offer abortion, or, 2) we don't subsidize citizens in paying for insurance.  It's all well and good to oppose abortion, but it is a legal medical procedure and there does not seem much justification for telling a private insurance company they cannot cover it.  As for #2, that's pretty much the biggest point of health reform– expanding coverage. 

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About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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