Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Abortion and the House Healthcare Bill

Some Democrats are unhappy with the version of the healthcare bill passed in the House last week. One provision they are upset about is the abortion amendment offered by pro-life Democrats that would prevent government money from being used to subsidize private insurance that pays for abortion.

I understand the frustration of some feminists. Access to abortion is really important to them. But I think the greater good, even for the very poor women they want to help is to pass a bill.

If a bill pays for abortions in any form, it will probably lose pro-life Democrats, which could doom passage. Also it forecloses the possibility that any group within the Republican base could support universal healthcare. In order for universal healthcare to continue for decades, people from both parties have to buy-in, or the party that doesn’t will simply try to repeal universal healthcare when it is in power.

The faction of the Republican Party most likely to support any universal healthcare in my judgment is the religious right. Stay with me here. Many evangelicals come from middle class families that stand to be hurt by rising insurance premiums in coming years. Moreover, many do believe the Bible requires them to be compassionate towards the poor.

So here’s a question feminists should answer before they block a healthcare bill that doesn’t cover abortion: because a woman can’t get an abortion, should we also say that she can’t get a mammogram?

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