Abortion and Health Care

Joe Veix

The right is making the debate about health care a debate about abortion, looking to expand the Hyde Amendment in the name of common ground.

The health care debate has become a debate about abortion. The Right has been looking for the best methods to exploit the desperation of its constituents, and abortion is the easiest issue to utilize; they get angry and take action. It isn’t surprising that at many of the anti-health care or "tea bagging" protests, an anti-abortion sign slips into the mix. Despite evidence that the Left is avoiding dealing with abortion in their plan, at least for now (see Obama’s speech to congress, where he said that "no federal dollars will be used to fund abortion"), the Right continues to emphasize made-up outrages: public funding for abortion and death panels.

The anti-abortion crowd is already moving to take advantage
of Obama’s stance on abortion. Frances Kissling at Salon explains:

"They now hope to use the president’s promise as a way to press for further restrictions on abortion coverage in the final healthcare legislation. As one moderate pro-life
leader told me, ‘It is going to be a long fall.’ All the talk about finding common ground on abortion and the emergence of moderate pro-lifers is floundering as Wallis [of the antiabortion organization Sojourners] and a few others prepare to push Congress and the White House for further concessions. ‘[The president’s] commitment to these principles,’ said Wallis, ‘means we can now work together to make sure that they are consistently and diligently applied to any final health care legislation.’ For Wallis, that means that ‘no person
should be forced to pay for someone else’s abortion and that public funds cannot be used to pay for elective abortions.’"

This means that they want an expansion of the Hyde Amendment, which bars any federal money to be spent on abortion. They want to disallow any small part of an anti-choice person’s healthcare premium, in their private plan, to be allocated for abortion.

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What’s worrisome is that since so much is at stake politically for the Obama administration if their health care proposal fails, there’s  ambiguity about how much they’ll be willing to compromise with regard to abortion in order to get their bill passed.

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