Abortion and health reform

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Excellent article on abortion and the health care debate in by William Saletan (who covers abortion and politics better than just about anybody).  Big picture, this is really small potatoes and what the various parties are arguing over is really pretty small stakes indeed.  Both sides of the debate are fully of hyperbole that has been pretty impervious to reality.  In actuality:

None of the proposals under discussion would ban abortion. None would take away your right to buy abortion coverage with your own money. None would force you to pay for somebody else's abortion. These are the conceptual parameters on which all sides have, for the time being, agreed.

Thus, what’s left over is all which accounting gimmicks legislators prefer, not exactly the great moral issues of our time:

Look at the competing amendments. They all segregate abortion money. The only difference is in who does the segregating and when this takes place. Nelson and Stupak would do it up front, when you pay your premiums. Nelson lets the government regulate abortion-insurance transactions; Stupak doesn't, lest the government be complicit. Capps and Reid let you write a single check and leave it to insurers to separate the funds. Ellsworth specifies a bunch of bookkeeping rules to keep the accounts separate. These variations are hardly cosmic. Each version has pros, cons, and complications. But the pros, cons, and complications are technical. They can be worked out.

Abortion advocacy groups, accustomed to epic struggles, exaggerate the differences. The National Right to Life Committee dismisses Nelson's amendment as a "bookkeeping requirement." So what? Stupak's amendment is a bookkeeping requirement, too. On the other side, Planned Parenthood claims, "There is no sound policy reason to require women to pay separately for their abortion coverage other than to try to shame them and draw attention to the abortion coverage." Come on.

Just another example of why abortion politics is so frustrating.  One of the reasons I love to read Saletan on the matter is because he cuts through the BS on both sides. 

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

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