Archive for July, 2009


Government Funded Abortion in Public Health Care

   Posted by: Robert    in Law, Politics

In today’s Washington Post, Dan Eggen and Rob Stein tell us about how abortion has played into the health care debate.  The article focuses on regulation, particularly, whether or not government or private insurance may be required to fund abortions under some or all of the new health care proposals currently winding their way through Congress.  As the article reads (and as I’m inclined to believe), the effort for compromise would allow private insurance to fund abortion, but not federal dollars.  While the compromise is common and has worked well in the past, it is also no compromise at all if the “public option” is made to exist.

As I have argued previously, the “public option” is long-term irreconcilable with private insurance.  Nothing has changed my mind on that point.  Eventually, the government will be responsible for paying all of our medical bills.  Once that happens, the government will no longer be able to avoid paying for abortion.  There will be no room for compromise.  The reason federal abortion funding will happen is subtle, and has very little to do with politicians.

Under the abortion regime handed to the country in Roe and updated in Casey, the government is constitutionally prohibited from imposing an “undue burden” on the ability of women to receive abortions.  While there is plenty of room to debate whether or not such a standard is proper, what is clear is that it denying payment for abortion would be tantamount to denying abortion itself.  Under the Court’s precedents (which make the legality of prohibiting a single procedure, while other procedures (and, thus, abortion in general) remain available, a close question), it takes very few mental gymnastics to conclude that the government’s failure to fund abortion when there is no other funding source would be an “undue burden.”

Whether the pro-abortion members of Congress are sincere or not, any compromise on leaving abortion out of the “public option” would be a hollow and temporary one at best.  Having been enshrined into the Constitution, abortion on demand is not a practice which will go away quickly or quietly.  For legislators concerned about federal dollars going to abortion, the only viable option is to vote against the “public option.”

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