Double trouble on abortion?

Passage of the Affordable Health Care Act of 2009 was aided by the Stupak Amendment at the last hour. The … Continued

Passage of the Affordable Health Care Act of 2009 was aided by the Stupak Amendment at the last hour. The U.S. Bishops were quick to hail not only passage of the House version of long-awaited reform but also for inclusion of that amendment. However, the double-dip victory may auger double trouble.

Cardinal George cast the Stupak Amendment as clarification of President Obama’s pledge that “no federal funds will pay for abortions.” But some say the bill goes further: now for the subsidized exchanges, no one receiving federal funds can have an abortion. According to the Hyde Amendment, the abortion issue was outside of government funding in most cases (rape and incest are exceptions). If a woman wanted an abortion – which is (unfortunately) a constitutional right according to the Supreme Court – she had to pay for it from her private funds. Now the acceptance of federal funds for any health care purposes by an individual or even by their insurance company excludes abortion (Sec. 265, 2(b) 1-2).

On the face of it, Catholic America has succeeded once again in the strategy promoted by Obama adviser and pro-life lawyer, Douglas Kmiec: Death to abortion by a thousand cuts and nicks in law. However, a look at the voting in the House suggests that there is a lot of politicking going on. Most of the representatives voting for the amendment, DID NOT vote for Affordable Health Care that the bishops advocate. On the other hand, most of those voting AGAINST THE AMENDMENT, voted for the bill. In other words, it would be naïve to think that a Catholic position on abortion has rallied both parties to a single cause. Rather, abortion remains a divisive issue.

I expect an amendment to the amendment at some point, probably along the lines of what was offered by Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D-Ind.). Given the partisan voting cited above, the Church runs the risk of being “used” for very mundane purposes. If the focus on abortion only serves a Republican Party strategy of protecting the status quo in favor of insurance companies to prevent reform, then the Stupak Amendment could become the equivalent of “throwing out the baby with the bathwater.”

But can you get both restriction of abortion funding AND health care reform? The compromise proposed is supposed to do this. It involves separate accounting of private funds paid to cover abortions for those who so choose. While such persons might be eligible for subsidies from the government to pay for some health care costs, the money to purchase coverage for abortions would have to come out of their own pocket.

The process might be compared to using food stamps at the check-out counter in a supermarket. Food stamps do not cover chewing gum. On more than one occasion, I have seen an expectant mother using the government’s nutrition assistance set two piles on the belt. The first stack includes formula and basic foods like cereal and milk. She uses the food stamps to pay for these. The second pile has a bag of chewing gum and the mother pays for this with cash from her pocket. I watched one woman give a stick of chewing gum to her child at her side during the drudgery of shopping. All this seemed like common-sense living to me. The food stamps do not buy chewing gum, the mother bought it from her own cash. After all, chewing gum is not illegal.

In the analogy, abortion insurance is like the private purchase of chewing gum. Its cost is separated from the subsidy, but taking government aid does not place the recipient into a separate category of citizen with different rights. Granted that the moral issue is much more serious, but the legal principle is the same.

This sort of “two piles” purchasing has been part of the implementation of the Hyde Amendment in the past, so it seems to be an extension in accordance with Catholic teaching. A reach too far would place the Church in the crossfire of partisan politics that the bishops say they want to avoid. If rational compromise is in order, I’d prefer a “two piles” solution to a “double trouble” problem.

  • usapdx

    THE BILL PASSES THE SENATE.YOUR LITTLE GIRL AGE NINE OF EIGHTY POUNDS IS RAPED AND TELLS YOU OF HER BODY HURTING. YOU TAKE HER TO A HOSPITAL AND THE DOCTOR TELL YOU THE SHE IS IN HER FORTH MONTH OF BEING PREGNANT BY TWINS. THE LITTLE GIRL TELL YOU THAT HER STEPFATHER RAPED HER. WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO? THIS HAPPENED EARLY THIS YEAR IN BRAZIL. AFTER THE ABORTION, THE BISHOP EXCOMMUNICATED THE MOTHER OF THE LITTLE GIRL AS WELL AS THE TWO DOCTORS. ROME BACKED THE BISHOP. PRESIDENT OF BRAZIL SPOKE OUT AGAIST THE BISHOP WHO RESIGNED IN JULY. CANON LAW 1398, 1323 HAVE NO AGE LIMITS FOR THE CATHOLICS. AS A PARENT WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO?

  • ccnl1

    Abortion Reality 101 (for those eyes that cannot see and for those brains that cannot understand).Abortion boils down to one simple question, when does human life begin? And one paramount observation/law: There is basic human morality that goes beyond the OT and NT. A fetus dies without nourishment. A baby dies without nourishment. I see no difference.It is obvious that intercourse and other sexual activities are out of control with over one million abortions (40 million globally) and 19 million cases of STDs per year in the USA alone. from the CDC-2006″Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) remain a major public health challenge in the United States. While substantial progress has been made in preventing, diagnosing, and treating certain STDs in recent years, CDC estimates that approximately 19 million new infections occur each year, almost half of them among young people ages 15 to 24.1 In addition to the physical and psychological consequences of STDs, these diseases also exact a tremendous economic toll. Direct medical costs associated with STDs in the United States are estimated at up to $14.7 billion annually in 2006 dollars.”How in the world do we get this situation under control? A pill to temporarily eliminate the sex drive would be a good start. And teenagers and young adults must be constantly reminded of the dangers of sexual activity and that oral sex, birth control pills, condoms and chastity belts are no protection against STDs. Might a list of those having an STD posted on the Internet help? Sounds good to me!!!! Said names would remain until the STD has been eliminated with verification by a doctor. Lists of sexual predators are on-line. Is there a difference between these individuals and those having a STD having sexual relations while infected???Hmmm, so a growing baby is considered by some to be nothing more than an infection? Talk about having no respect for life!!!!! And Nature or Nature’s God is the #1 taker of everyone’s life. That gives some rational for killing the unborn or those suffering from dementia, mental disease or Alzheimer’s or anyone who might inconvenience your life???

  • persiflage

    Abortions are considered elective surgery and as such, wouldn’t be covered under most health insurance policies to begin, with noted exceptions in the cases of rape, incest, and danger to the life of the mother – none of which the Catholic Church supports as a justification for a termination of pregnancy. This ‘elective’ element is the substance of the restriction – the ranting and raving of anti-abortionists aside. One wonders if ‘artificial’ birth control/methods of contraception have also been written out of the prescription drug coverage included in the government healthcare option? Only if the Catholics have their way….. A complete and airtight separation of Church and State in all matters political is the only way to keep religious forces from meddling in government – it’s unfortunate that Obama has let himself be influenced by Kmiec, if true. Who said all lobbyists were bought and sold by good old fashioned American capitalism? The religious idealogues still have a significant presence on The Hill. What’s next? A beer with Randall Terry on the Whitehouse patio?? It’s time for religious organizations to stop proselytizing on the cheap – eliminate all tax exemptions based on religious affiliations. The real cost of the political leveraging of salient public issues will soon become apparent to the devout!!

  • ccnl1

    What else should be included in the universal health bill??1. An added two dollar health insurance tax (or higher) on a pack of cigarettes. Ditto taxes on alcolholic beverages, the higher the alcohol content, the higher the tax. Ditto for any product shown to be unhealthy (e.g. guns, high caloric/fatty foods??)2. Physicals akin to those required for life insurance- the overly obese will pay signficantly more Medicare and universal health insurance (unless the obesity is caused by a medical condition).3. No universal health care coverage for drivers driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs or using cell phones while driving.4. No universal health coverage for drug addicts or for those having self-inflicted STDs.5. No univeral health coverage for abortions unless the life of the mother is at significant risk and judged to be so by at least two doctors. (part of the House of Representative’s bill)6. No universal health coverage for euthanasia.7. No foreign aid given to countries who abort females simply because they are female. 8. No more foreign aid to Israel and Egypt i.e. $8 billion/yr. Said funds would now be used to pay for universal health care.9. And as per a recent Guttmacher study, Then there are those anti-E (rection) pills that should definitely be paid for once they become available

  • Climacus

    Is Stevens-Arroyo on crack? The bill does NOT provide that “no one receiving federal funds can have an abortion”, and even if it did it would have no legal effect. That is an absolutely laughable thing for him to believe.