Thursday, December 24, 2009

William Saletan on the Fight Over Abortion Insurance Coverage

Slate Magazine: All Abort, by William Saletan:

The fight over abortion insurance is smaller than it looks.

After trillions of dollars, decades of debate, and months of legislative haggling, the fate of health care in the United States is coming down to an old-fashioned moral issue. Pro-lifers and pro-choicers are fighting over insurance coverage of abortions. Each camp seems capable of killing the legislation pending in Congress. Abortion, we're told, is different from other issues caught up in the health care debate. It's a question of ultimate values, impervious to compromise.

Nonsense. Lawmakers on both sides have already agreed on principles for working out the abortion question. The differences among the competing proposals are almost entirely technical. Zealots may care about the details, but most Americans don't. Let's cut a deal and move on.

None of the proposals under discussion would ban abortion. None would take away your right to buy abortion coverage with your own money. None would force you to pay for somebody else's abortion. These are the conceptual parameters on which all sides have, for the time being, agreed.

When the health care debate started, the big problem was the public option. If it covered abortion, pro-lifers would feel coerced to pay for killing babies. It it didn't cover abortions, pro-choicers would feel robbed of their rights. But now the public option is kaput. So the debate has narrowed to how we treat the mixture of public subsidies with private premiums in federally supervised insurance exchanges. This is a more manageable problem. The framework for addressing it has been broadly accepted: We have to keep public money from getting mixed up in abortions. The question is how. . . .

Abortion, Congress, Politics | Permalink

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