Catholics have been preoccupied with the possibility that abortions will be paid for by the government, with their tax dollars, if the Democrats gain the votes required to pass their health care bill on Sunday. While I certainly share this concern, I must say that it appears to be too little, too late. In the first place, federal funds already make up 1/3 of Planned Parenthood’s budget – in 2008, they received 350 million dollars from the federal government. In the second place, given that 46% of private health insurance companies cover abortion, that means many of us have probably been paying for abortions with our own money as we pay our monthly premiums. Of course, if you use Windows, you’ve made Bill Gates a richer man, and Gates gives tens of millions of dollars to Planned Parenthood, because he and some of his fellow billionaires are obsessed with population control. Nothing to worry about there.
You might also live in one of the 32 states that fund abortion through Medicaid in the case of rape, incest, or the “health” of the mother, or the 17 states – 13 of which are forced by court orders – to cover all “medically necessary” abortions. If you pay state taxes, you’re already funding abortion with your tax dollars, and you have been for decades. Granted, you haven’t been funding abortion on demand, at least not on paper. In practice, who knows.
Abortion advocates have met with a measure of success in advancing the argument that rights without access are meaningless, that access for the poor requires massive public funding, and that a failure to provide it constitutes class and possibly racial discrimination. Alas, they are not the only ones who make arguments linking money to rights; the recent Supreme Court ruling on corporate and union participation in political campaigns also established that the right to free speech is meaningless if one can’t spend unlimited amounts of money to spread the message. I’m certainly aware of the fact that in one case advocates are demanding federal funding, while in the other advocates were simply insisting on a right to spend private money. The common denominator, though, is that a right is virtually null and void if its use requires money and you, for one reason or another, don’t have it or can’t spend it.
Unfortunately I see no way to argue with this logic. We have a sixth amendment right to counsel and a speedy trial, but without public defenders, a lot of poor defendants would be effectively denied this right. A string of Supreme Court rulings have established, therefore, that the sixth and fourteenth amendments logically require government-funded legal services. Though the language of Roe only appears to include abortion under a more vaguely understood “right to privacy”, the logical outcome of a constitutional right to abortion is federal and state funding of abortion on demand.
Now, frankly, I think the fact that poor women can’t get abortions is a great thing. One study showed that of the women who want abortions, but are ineligible for Medicaid coverage, 1/4 end up giving birth. How many lives saved that translates into I can’t say, but it is evident that restrictions on abortion funding make at least some women think twice and do the right thing. I fear however that in the long-run, anything declared a constitutional right in the United States will have to be publicly funded.
I don’t want Obamacare to become law, whether abortion funding is in it or not. The country can’t afford it, I have zero confidence in the federal government’s capacity to implement it in a way that won’t be inefficient and immoral, and it may spark a nullification crisis of the kind America hasn’t seen since before the Civil War. Perhaps in a world in which Obama didn’t handout hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to Wall Street, continue the over-extension of the American empire, and spend even more money on a bogus stimulus package that hasn’t moved the unemployment numbers – perhaps in that world, I might support an overhaul of the American healthcare system.
Fortunately, the only condition under which Stupak and his stalwart followers will vote for the bill are conditions under which at least 40-50 radical pro-abortion Democrats will vote against it. These forces appear to cancel each other out, and Obamacare seems doomed – unless, of course, Stupak is abysmally stupid enough to accept the prospect of a presidential executive order to restrict abortion. That’s not just putting the fox in charge of the hen house; that’s giving him a gun and a butcher’s knife to make sure he gets the most out of it.