Sunday, July 19, 2009

Abortion and the Health Care Debate

I was listening to a news program interview on health care, and the host asked both guests (one from the Obama administration, another from the GOP) whether a Federally funded health care scheme should use taxpayer money for abortion.

I have a simple answer: Yes.

Abortion is a legal medical procedure. If we're going to refuse coverage for it, what other legal procedures should we also refuse to fund? And on what grounds?

Many people have religious objections to abortion, and that they should not have their taxes used to fund something which goes against their beliefs. Should we also oppose funding blood transfusions, out of respect for Jehovah's Witnesses? Should we oppose funding psychiatric treatment because it goes against Scientology?

The main argument is that abortion involves the taking of a human life, and therefore should not be financed with taxpayer money. I'd love it if our government never paid to have a life taken -- but we already do. Every casualty of war, every suspect shot by police, and every murderer executed, is paid for by tax dollars. Should we give people the option to check off on their income tax forms that they don't want their share of the tax pool to go to these activities?

My question for those who oppose funding abortion: What is your alternative? So many who oppose funding abortion are also opposed to funding contraception, comprehensive sex education, child care for single mothers and so forth, one has to wonder what practical policies they would favor -- or even if they do.

In the end, the more important question is making sure that every American can get the health care they need. The choice of which procedures to have should be left to patients, in consultation with their health care providers. And if those opposed to abortion do not want it chosen, then they should be willing to make as many alternatives as possible available to all, and especially those options which would prevent unwanted pregnancy and abortion to begin with.

I can't think of anything more ethical -- or more American -- than giving every person the power to choose how best to deal with their family's health, even if the choices they make may not be mine, or my choices theirs.

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