Clues About Abortion Funding In Obama’s Health Care Reform

Joe Veix

In an interview with Katie Couric last week, Obama stated that his health care reform might not fund abortion because this wouldn't fit with the "tradition."

Feministing spotted Obama’s stance (or lack of one) on whether or not his health care reform will fund abortions in an interview with Katie Couric a week ago. Apparently, such funding wouldn’t fit with the "tradition" in our country.

Katie Couric: Do you favor a government option that would cover abortions?

President Obama: What I think is important, at this stage, is not trying to micromanage what benefits are covered. Because I think we’re still trying to get a framework. And my main focus is making sure that people have the options of high quality care at the lowest possible price.

As you know, I’m pro choice. But I think we also have a tradition of, in this town, historically, of not financing abortions as part of government funded health care. Rather than wade into that issue at this point, I think that it’s appropriate for us to figure out how to just deliver on the cost savings, and not get distracted by the abortion debate at this station.

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One can’t help but be bemused; if I remember correctly, Obama ran on a platform of change, so at the very least shouldn’t he be reevaluating the validity of our country’s many traditions (in this case, the Hyde Amendment)? And at what point was breaking tradition ever a bad thing? Obama himself broke many traditions by becoming the first African American President, and that was only good news.

But then again, Obama is a smart politician; it looks like it’ll be difficult enough for him to get his health care reform passed, and saying it will fund abortions will just give right wing extremists fuel to combat the reform. Avoiding specific incendiary issues and appealing to "tradition" is a good strategy to push the broad idea of reform through. The end of Obama’s quote, where he says that we should "not get distracted by the abortion debate at this station" might suggest that the funding is a possibility, but only after the larger battle of health care reform is won.

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