Published November 13, 2009
The House's recently passed health-care bill includes a provision banning the use of federal funds for abortion services in the public insurance option and government-sponsored health-care exchange.
The measure prohibits abortion coverage as part of a minimum benefits package except in cases of rape, incest or if the mother's life is in danger. The restriction, a big victory for anti-abortion forces, has ignited a fiery debate, and abortion-rights advocates are determined to strip the amendment. Many doubt the Senate bill and any final legislation will contain a ban on government-financed abortions.
Abortion-rights groups call the funding restriction an underhanded attempt by opponents to ban legal abortions in the United States. This is a gross exaggeration. The amendment does not prohibit a woman from having an abortion; it merely forbids government funds paying for one (women would be required to buy separate insurance riders with their own money to cover abortions).
Health-care reform is long overdue. Access to medical care for all Americans is a moral issue and lawmakers must find a solution. But the possibility of government-subsidized abortions is unconscionable. Federally funded abortions are essentially taxpayer-funded abortions. Some have argued this would not be the first time the government has used taxpayer money to pay for programs that some Americans oppose. This may be true, but few issues are as divisive; both sides of the debate hold deep convictions.
Abortion foes ascribe to the belief that life begins at conception. Terminating a pregnancy thus is equivalent to ending a life. This is considered not only morally wrong but also a clear violation of the tenets of many faiths. Rearing children, whether planned or unplanned, can be challenging, but every life has a purpose and deserves to be protected. Adoption is a viable alternative to abortion.
Abortion-rights advocates base their arguments on the right of women to dictate the course of their own lives. Ironically, by choosing to have an abortion, the woman elevates her right to choose over her child's right to life. If abortion opponents are expected to respect a woman's right to choose to abort her child, those on the other side should respect our right not to want to pay for it with tax dollars.
Like many abortion opponents, I continue to support nonviolent efforts for legislative reform. However, until the law changes, abortion foes are forced to acknowledge that abortion is legal. As a person of faith, I find this a harsh reality. But forcing anti-abortion taxpayers to fund a practice so contradictory to our moral and religious beliefs crosses the line. It is callous and infringes on our rights.