Abortion and the Health Care Bill

As a state-level economic policy organization, the Rio Grande Foundation does not take a position on social issues like abortion. But With narrow passage of the House health care bill made possible by strict limits on taxpayer subsidies for abortion under the plan, the debate over abortion policy has moved front-and-center in the health care debate. Recently, in fact, a representative of a group calling itself “New Mexico Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice” wrote on the pages of the Albuquerque Journal that abortion should not impact passage of the legislation one way or the other. President Obama echoed this sentiment saying “This is a health care bill, not an abortion bill.”

The problem, of course, is that when the federal government is paying for health care (including abortion), the legislation is inherently an abortion bill. It is, after all, one thing for an individual to not wish to pay for or subsidize abortions of others. This is largely the situation we have been living under to date. It is another thing for the government to force people who have serious moral concerns about abortion (or other medical procedures) to be forced to pay for that through their tax dollars. Their concerns are certainly justified and I can understand why abortion opponents demanded such an amendment before voting for the bill.

There may be a way to find a compromise here, but it is now the largest single stumbling block to health care reform and abortion opponents hold the cards.

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