Health Care Reform and Abortion in the Times
Eduardo Moisés Peñalver September 29, 2009 - 9:50am
A good story in today's NY Times laying out the various options on how to treat abortion in the health care reform plan. Here's a taste, but go read the whole thing:
At least 31 House Democrats have signed various recent letters to the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, urging her to allow a vote on a measure to restrict use of the subsidies to pay for abortion, including 25 who joined more than 100 Republicans on a letter delivered Monday.Representative Bart Stupak of Michigan, a leading Democratic abortion opponent, said he had commitments from 40 Democrats to block the health care bill unless they have a chance to include the restrictions.After months of pushing the issue, Mr. Stupak said in an interview, Mr. Obama finally called him 10 days ago. He said: Look, try to get this thing worked out among the Democrats. We want you to work it out within the party, Mr. Stupak said, adding that Mr. Obama did not say whether he supported the segregated-money provision or a more sweeping restriction. We got his attention, which we never had before.After the president called, Mr. Stupak said, Ms. Pelosi agreed to meet with Mr. Stupak on Tuesday to discuss his proposals for the first time, her office confirmed. Her spokesman, Nadeam Elshami, said in a statement, As we have throughout the process, we are meeting with our members to listen to their concerns, consulting with the administration, and making progress.
Although I haven't looked at the actual language of his amendments, the Hatch/Stupak proposals sound very sensible as described in the story -- i.e., prohibit the use of federal subsidies to purchase policies that include abortion coverage, but allow women to purchase abortion "riders" on their own. Given the ideological tactical stance most Republicans have taken against health care reform in any shape or form (regardless of how abortion is treated), credit for more restrictions on the use of federal funds for abortion, if they become part of a successful bill, should go to the group of pro-life Democrats discussed in the story.
About the Author
Eduardo Moisés Peñalver is the John P. Wilson Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School. He is the author of numerous books and articles on the subjects of property and land use law.