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Abortion and Health Care Reform: Latest Developments

I don't have much time to blog today but I wanted to note an interesting development in the ongoing Congressional debate about abortion in health care reform. The New York Times reports today that Rep. Brad Ellswirth (D-IN) is planning to offer an amendment to the House bill that would modify its treatment of abortion.According to Ellsworth's web site, his amendment:

  • Explicitly prevents all federal tax dollars from being used to provide abortions in the public option;
  • Prohibits any funds from the US Treasury from paying for abortion services in any of the plans purchased through the proposed Health Insurance Exchange-private or public;
  • Establishes clear, strict rules for separating public funds from the premiums of private individuals (ensuring that no public funds are ever used to pay for an abortion in any health plan offered on the Health Insurance Exchange);
  • Guarantees every American participating in the Health Insurance Exchange will always have access to a pro-life insurance option;
  • Expands conscience protections to prevent the government from discriminating against pro-life health insurance plans

Although Ellsworth has a very strong pro-life record, the NRTL's Doug Johnson was fairly scathing in his reaction, saying "when you're going into battle, it is always unpleasant to be bayoneted in the back by somebody who said that he was on your side...The Ellsworth language serves no purpose except to assist the pro-abortion House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, to peel votes away from the authentic pro-life amendment, the Stupak amendment."The Congressional Quarterly coverage is depicting this as a split in the ranks of pro-life Democrats, many of whomhad previously been supportive of the Stupak amendment. From other coverage I've read today (getting too tired to link to all of it) it does appear that Ellsworthhas the support of the Democratic leadership to offer the amendment. I think Doug Johnson may be right that they are hoping to peel off enough pro-life Democrats so that Stupak will not be able to muster the votes he needs to block consideration of the bill if he is not allowed to offer his own amendment.Since I have not yet seen the actual legislative language, I'm afraid Idon't have a lot of substantive analysis to offer at this point.

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A year ago, when Barack Obama was elected president, my family felt profoundly alienated and disenfranchised. We feel as though we don't have a voice in the White House, that Presidenr Obama doesn't care about the concerns of Catholics (except those of liberal party operatives like Biden, Pelosi, et al. who compromise the faith to achieve their seuclar, political objectives). As the gamesmanship on this healthcare legislation continues to progress, excuse us Catholics who stand with the bishops and the faith of the Church for being skeptical about proposals that fall short of the Stupak Amendment.

As a Catholic, I agree that abortion should not be funded.But aside from that, on the insurance side, there is another reason not to fund it.People definitely need to have health coverage for unforeseen illnesses. This not only includes catastrophic illnesses (the kind that bankrupt families) but should also include things like the flu. We have good statistical measures for figuring out the likelihood of these things happening over large aggregate risk pools, and we can usually get a good idea of future costs.But there is another class of expense that does not come from the same unforeseen source. This includes things like birth control, viagra, and abortions. These (and there are others like them) are not things that address medical conditions that could become worse and threaten someone's health. When some people complain about "mandates" they are complaining about things like this which act as a sort of consumer product stuck in the middle of an insurance product. For things like this, we are simply talking about cost shifting, not about risk. And I would argue that at least for now, we need to take care of the risk problem, and pretty exclusively, before we take care of the cost shifting problem. The things I have outlined above (and things like them) are not necessary when we are talking about providing basic coverage for 50 million uninsured. They add costs at a time when we have not solved the cost problem even at a basic level.(I am not saying that mandates are bad as such. Without mandates we would have an even worse mental health system in the US than we do now and mandates in our system is the main way that certain kinds of systematic advances are made.)

Unagidon,Setting the morality of abortion aside, the average pregnancy and birth incurs about $12,000 in medical expenses, for low-birthweight babies the average cost is higher, and for very low-birthweight babies the cost may be astronomical (not to mention that the child may have problems that continue into adulthood). If a policy covers pregnancy, on purely economic terms, wouldn't the insurance company heave a sigh of relief any time a woman had an abortion (at a cost of perhaps $350)?Also, birth control is cheap relative to pregnancy and birth. Isn't it in the economic interest of insurance companies to pay for birth control?It also seems to me by your criteria, it would be arguable that pregnancy and birth should not be covered by insurance.

People have argued that pregnancy and birth should not be covered for the reasons I have outlined. However, they form an exception in our society.It's not that abortion is more cost effective than births. We should be paying for births under any system. It's that saying "I absolutely need an abortion" is not the same as saying "I absolutely need chemotherapy." If we had unlimited money to play with (and we would if we stopped being the defenders of the world) then we could have a different argument perhaps on the economic side. But until everyone can get the chemo they NEED, I would argue that some people should not be getting the abortions, birth control pills, fertility treatments etc. that they want. It is this mixture of needs and wants that is causing much of our problem in getting health reform. Let's take care of the needs first and take care of the other stuff later.

Peter, thanks for posting this. I have been trying to parse what is what, but A) I have no expertise and B) it makes what's left of my brain hurt and C) the story and texts are changing as I write. David Brody has some good coverage, and links to texts and such: http://blogs.cbn.com/thebrodyfile/Two things seems clear: One, that no matter how remote or immaterial the cooperation, many professional pro-lifers and GOP leaders will characterize the bill as a massive Stalinist government taxpayer promotion and funding of abortion under the guise of health care. Two, obviously the Dems needs to get enough votes to pass the bill, so it's a question of how many they lose on the pro-life side versus how many on the pro-choice side. But I suspect the pro-choicers won't jump ship over the issue the ways the pro-lifers will, and it seems astonishingly boneheaded (and we're talking Pelosi and Reid here, so that's your floor) that they and/or Obama haven't just pushed for a Stupak-type amendment. You'd steal a march on the opposition, burnish your pro-life bona fides at no real cost, and, oh, get real health care reform passed--with a public option. One other thing I have been meaning to ask of Peter and Unagidon and anyone else with some real knowledge: What do the health reform proposals say about mental health coverage? Pardon me if you all have addressed this before and I did not notice. I would hope there are robust requirements, but if there is nothing, I'm surprised Dems and others haven't complained, and if there is provision for coverage, I'm surprised conservatives or opponents haven't made a big deal of it. Is mental health coverage that braodly accepted now? That would be a good thing. Again, I haven't seen much if anything on this aspect, but that doesn't mean much. I've lately been immersing myself in the provisions for coverage of Christian Science practices.

Unagidon,You know far more about insurance than I do, but it still seems to me you are basically making a moral argument against covering abortion, not an economic one. No one can say, "I absolutely need a baby," yet many insurance policies cover fertility treatments, and many states mandate coverage of fertility treatments (including in vitro fertilization, which the Catholic Church condemns). I don't have time to look up statistics, but I imagine married people in the United States have roughly the number of children they want. Why should insurance pay for one couple having two children and another couple having eight? Nobody needs eight children. Of course, I would not argue against insurance covering the cost of pregnancy and childbirth, since there are considerations other than insurance costs that enter into the equation. But it seems to me that your argument about covering abortion and birth control is certainly not purely an economic one. It is a value judgment, influenced greatly by Catholic thought, regarding what people need versus what they want.

I wonder what a health insurance policy that covered only abortion would cost. Would pro-lifers argue that no woman receiving federal subsidies could buy her own abortion coverage entirely separate -- and from another company -- from her health insurance policy that was subsidized by the government?

"But until everyone can get the chemo they NEED, I would argue that some people should not be getting the abortions, birth control pills, fertility treatments etc."Now this makes sense. Also take the ubiquity of viagra and other sexually enhancing drugs. Should this not be a moral concern? Our airwaves are filled with drugs for everything including many whose curative effects are doubtful. And the price of drugs in this country are sinful. Why should Canada be able to have such cheaper drugs. Lot of people getting away with murder.

David, your argument is quite correct. However, as a society we have not (yet) reached a point where we are willing to ration the having of children on the basis of cost effectiveness. There are few ways that we defend the family any more in concrete ways, but paying for each pre-natal care, all births and all well baby visits is simply a moral imperitive that we still have. So although you are right in what you say, births are bracketed out.I completely admit and have always admitted that I am morally against abortion. But my point on the insurance side is that even if I had very strong pro-choice moral beliefs, I would still oppose including abortion coverage in this plan, because of the nature of the procedure. It falls into a class of things that may or may not be necessary (here people can insert various moral arguments) but this is opposed to things that simply are necessary with no argument. We have to pay for the latter. I don't think that we as a nation are at the point where we can pay both. So I will argue that the latter has to be the priorty from a pure financial viewpoint even though, as you can see, I am ALSO against abortion as such.

David said: "One other thing I have been meaning to ask of Peter and Unagidon and anyone else with some real knowledge: What do the health reform proposals say about mental health coverage?"I don't really know in detail. But I suspect that it is considered a frill in many ways, just as it is in the modern commercial insurance world. If it wasn't, you wouldn't see so many commercial plans limiting the number of paid visits with mental health workers. People would not tolerate it if number of paid visits for chemotherapy were limited, for example. But the mental health thing is another big (and hidden) unresolved moral issue in this country.

David N, I guess you weren't an eighth child! How far we've declined as a civilization if we no longer consider pregnancy and birth as something that is necesary and desirable. Conversely, a civilization that promotes the slaughter of its children, homosexual conduct, and other societal evils is headed in a bad direction, and our policies shouldn't advance those things, which are not necessary or desirable.Also, to pluck away some Catholics from the Republican party, we often hear the mantra that Democrats want "fewer abortions." If that rhetoric is true, then why would they insist on a massive healthcare bill that provides for universal access to abortion?David G,, your first point is hardly "clear" or objective, and you caricature and minimize the legitimate concerns of Catholics and the Catholic Church.I too would like to hear more about the psychological coverage, and also I think Bill makes some excellent points.

A basic medical insurance policy - the sort of national policy we could offer free to all - would of necessity Not cover very many electrive procedures - at all.And so in addition to the immorality and murder involved, the question is why would a basic minimal policy cover abortion or any other elective procedure?

I haven't had time to compare the details of the Stupak and Ellsworth amendments, and I hope Ellsworth didn't propound his amendment at the behest of the House majority leadership in an effort to undercut the Stupak amendment, but for me the most interesting aspect of the attempt to craft abortion neutral language for a health care reform bill is that there is finally a group of pro-life Democratic legislators with sufficient numbers abd voices to be noticed and to be a squeaky wheel that can't be ignored. Who knows, perhaps it will soon be a mistake to say that "pro-life Democrat" is an oxymoron.

Unagidon's comments are always worth careful consideration. In his 7:54 am comment today he or she calls for distinguishing between needs and wants. That is, indeed, crucial, and very difficult, in health care matters.For what it's worth, Epicurus distinguished (a0 natural and necessary desires, from both (b) simply natural desires, and (c) desires that are "neither natural nor necessary but occurring as a result of a groundless opinion."I admit that applying these distinctions is not all that easy, but they are surely relevant to dealing sensibly with complex matters like health care policy.

Health care management companies offer a unique perspective into the whole debate about the public option and what real reform looks like. I've been impressed by this one that's serving nearly 1 million in Ohio and staying in the black! http://cli.gs/z3AtaY/

It seems the USCCB has it coreect. No funding for elective abortions and universal coverage.1 - Elective abortions have nothing to do with "health care"; they are simply a way to do away with a baby. Also an elective abortion is elective. A national medical policy would not cover other elective procedures, why cover elective abortions?2 - Not a small number of lower income folks in our land are indocumentados, mostly Mexican farmworkers, but others as well. In any case, when these (undocumented) folks or their kids get sick, they wait until it is very serious and then the go to the emergency room. All this drives up healthcare costs, and so it simply makes economic sense to include indocumentados in any national health insurance plan.I do not understand why some think these two things are simply too much to ask.

"Setting the morality of abortion aside, the average pregnancy and birth incurs about $12,000 in medical expenses, for low-birthweight babies the average cost is higher, and for very low-birthweight babies the cost may be astronomical (not to mention that the child may have problems that continue into adulthood). If a policy covers pregnancy, on purely economic terms, wouldnt the insurance company heave a sigh of relief any time a woman had an abortion (at a cost of perhaps $350)?"You are ignoring the revenue side. The insurer needs to replace the finite reveues generated by the parents in order to remain going concerns.

You have my vote, Ken! We tend to play around with the common meaning of words in our society. Abortion is not, as Ken points out, "health care." Abortion is terminating a pregnancy--in other words, killing an unborn child. But we hide behind words such as "health care," "women's health," or "choice."

Abortion is not, as Ken points out, health care. Sometimes it is health care.

How about leaving out abortions for Federal funding and let those who pay already have insurance make their own choices. Unagidon or Peter, Should there not be a simpler solution to this. What am I missing here.

Bill said: "How about leaving out abortions for Federal funding and let those who pay already have insurance make their own choices. Unagidon or Peter, Should there not be a simpler solution to this. What am I missing here."On one hand, if you have insurance and your insurance covers abortions, then your premium goes into the general pool and helps cover abortions. You can choose to have that insurance or not. But abortion in any scenario is not necessary in the way, say, that a kidney transplant is necessary. In a system where there are a lot of uninsured and under insured, where people are not getting necessary medical benefits, I think that it's hard to argue for including non-necessary medical benefits, especially when cost is both a political and a practical issue. In a way (and I am not trying to trivialize the issue) it's like food stamps. You can buy food with food stamps. But you can't buy whatever you want.My point is that abortion and a number of similar things does not need to enter the debate as a moral issue. There is no financial need to pay for it with a federal plan.Should insurance ever pay for abortions? As a Catholic, I say no. As an insurance executive, it is also a mandate (not that mandates are bad as such) where people want certain services performed by a medical practitioner in order to have its costs spread across a larger population so that they themselves do not have to pay as much for it.

My point is that abortion and a number of similar things does not need to enter the debate as a moral issue. There is no financial need to pay for it with a federal plan.Unagidon,This still makes no economic sense. If a woman has no abortion coverage, unless she pays for an abortion herself, that's about $12,000 to pay the costs of prenatal care and delivery. How can you argue that we can't pay $350 for an abortion, because we need the money to pay for other things, but we can afford to pay $12,000 for the woman to have the baby? You have to keep your fingers crossed and hope that a large percentage of women with unintended pregnancies find the money to pay for their own abortions (which currently they do).

Ken,I agree absolutely that coverage should be universal and that illegal aliens should be able to buy insurance if they can afford it, and if they can't afford it, they should get the same subsidies as citizens. However, it seems to me the American bishops are willing to compromise on this. For example, we have the following:

Bishop Soto said the exclusion of government-supported insurance for undocumented immigrants is an issue with which the bishops might disagree, but could concede as a political necessity. But the legislation "has to include at a minimum some kind of safety net for the undocumented," particularly if the goal of a nationwide health care reform plan is to improve the overall health of society, he said.

David, it makes economic sense once one accepts (as we do as a society) that people should have babies. A truly cost effective system would, frankly, contain a lot of euthanasia. The Right has wrongly accused the Left of playing around witht this idea in the form of death panels. But we have a recognized base of assumptions that includes women having babies and people being kept alive beyond (as the assisted suicide supporters say) the point of having a quality life (whatever that's supposed to mean) and at great expense.Once you make these base assumptions, THEN you ask the question what is necessary and what is not. IF women have babies, then they and their babies need all of the specialized care that women and babies need.Abortion rights supporters might make an argument that abortion falls into this class as well. I don't think that it does and my personal litmus test is "does one need X (in this case abortion) in the way that one needs chemotherapy". For X one can substitute lots of other things. But the point is, it falls into that class of medical procedures that doesn't pass this test. This does not mean that they should not or could not be covered, at least at some point. But I think it is a strong and reasonable argument to say that we should cover everything that passes this kind of test first and then have the argument about the other stuff later.Regarding undocumented workers, I don't buy the "safety net" argument for several reasons. First, if we have a system as I have suggested above where necessary treatment is covered, then everyone has to be covered in the same way because all of the treatment is necessary by definition. Second, another base assumption in our civilization is that we don't (or at least say we don't) want to throw sick people out into the street. So why create a class of people who will be incented to under treat themselves until they get sicker than they needed to, at which point we will definitely treat them in expensive emergency rooms? There may be lots of ways to solve the undocumented problem. But using health care as some sort of disincentive to keep people from coming to the United States isn't working now. Why would it work in the future? In the meantime, we create a class of underserved people just at the time that we are totally trying to eliminate this class for financial reasons (so that they system willl run efficiently). It doesn't make sense. Third, Christians don't distinguish between friends, guests, and strangers when friends, guests, or strangers are in need. I normally hate to talk like this, but this is a simple fact.

" I dont think that it does and my personal litmus test is does one need X (in this case abortion) in the way that one needs chemotherapy. For X one can substitute lots of other things. But the point is, it falls into that class of medical procedures that doesnt pass this test."What about the litmus test that the scenario returns where the wealthy will afford to have a competent doctor to perform abortions while the vast majority will resort to back alley procedures which is the case in the global South?

Bill, let's think about this. When you say global South, are you talking about the American South? Because I don't think that this problem exists in America today, while I would agree that it does exist in other countries. But it's the American health care system that we are trying to reform.A stronger argument might be (if this were the case) women are having back street abortions which are often hurting them and throwing them into the acute care system. So would it not be more cost effective to pay for a competent abortion in the first place? There's reason here, but only if back street abortions are a problem to begin with.Buried in here is the question of cost shifting at the level of the insured person. Is our overall problem that people simply cannot afford medical care at any level (either they can or they can't)? Or is it that health care has become so expensive that they have to shift resources away from other stuff that they shouldn't (have to) in order to pay for health care. In other words, do we primarily have a health care problem where people can't afford it at all, or do we have a health care problem where, in the United States, a disproportionate amount of our spending is going to health care and not, say, to education or (especially for us) personal debt relief?Both problems exist, of course. But I have found in the national debate that many talk as though they think it is unfair that if they have health benefits they should be paying anything at all out of pocket. This is another facet of the question that does not get enough attention. If someone says that a premium of $1,000 a month is too much, or an out of pocket maximium of $5,000 per year is too much, then what is a reasonable amount given what we know about health care costs at their source?

"This still makes no economic sense. If a woman has no abortion coverage, unless she pays for an abortion herself, thats about $12,000 to pay the costs of prenatal care and delivery. How can you argue that we cant pay $350 for an abortion, because we need the money to pay for other things, but we can afford to pay $12,000 for the woman to have the baby? You have to keep your fingers crossed and hope that a large percentage of women with unintended pregnancies find the money to pay for their own abortions (which currently they do)."This only refers to cost. Profits are revenues less costs. In this scenario, profits would decrease due to declining revenues as measured in nominal dollars.

I received an action alert yesterday from Catholic Democrats which I thought was interesting because it reminded readers that this is first and foremost a health care bill and as such should be abortion neutral; that is, it should maintain the existing status quo vis-a-vis abortion. (My only problem is, I'm not exactly sure what is the status quo). They asked people to contact their congressman to push the following 3 points:1. Pass a health care reform bill that provides universal health insurance for ALL Americans. The current bill only covers 96% of legal residents in our country and the Congressional Budget Office estimates that 12 million people will be excluded.2. Pass a health care reform bill that allows undocumented immigrants the opportunity to purchase health insurance from the proposed health insurance exchange. The current House bill does not allow this. Allowing undocumented immigrants to cover their own health costs not only makes economic sense but it is also the right thing to do morally.3. Pass a health care reform bill that maintains the status quo with respect to the prohibitions of federal funding for abortion as governed by the Hyde Amendment. There is a broad consensus - which includes the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops - (according to the Catholic Democrats) that the focus of this debate should be on providing universal health care and not on abortion. The status quo should be maintained. For people who really understand this issue, do the above points seem reasonable?

I dont think that it does and my personal litmus test is does one need X (in this case abortion) in the way that one needs chemotherapy. Unagidon,It seems to me your litmus test eliminates everything except life-saving care. There seem to be doubts about the value of yearly physicals, and even if there weren't, they are elective and totally predictable. There is also serious doubt that many types of cancer screening (mammography) saves lives. Certainly you can't answer "yes" to "Does one need a mammogram (or a colonoscopy) in the way that one needs chemotherapy?" Also, I wonder what the answer is to "does one need Lipitor (or any cholesterol-lowering drug) in the same way one needs chemotherapy?" And what about mental-health coverage? Many people are disturbed by how poorly mental health is covered, but rarely is it necessary in the way chemotherapy is needed.

If the litmus test was designed to ask which was worse, bad cholesterol or cancer, then I would probably agree with you. But litmus test is about outcomes. If I have cancer and don't get chemo against if I am pregnant and don't get an abortion. If I need to be checked for breast cancer, I can't be checked via a colonoscopy.An abortion rights advocate might suggest that some people suffer from pregnancy and that the termination of the pregnancy is the cure for it. But I would argue that talking about pregnancy this was is controversial in a way that talking about cancer is not.Regarding physical exams, I have mentioned elsewhere that any system that has universal funding for high risk illnesses (which I have argued is necessary to keep costs down overall) needs a strong primary care front end. Otherwise, things don't get caught early and one ends up paying more for stuff when it gets advanced, complicated, an expensive. So physicals and such would have to be a cornerstone of any system in order for it to work. Prevention HAS to be part of cost savings.Mental health is a problem because we as a society have such primitive attitudes about it. Somehow people understand if my lungs get the flu, but they don't if my brain gets depression. But we do know enough about clinical outcomes (at least people who need to know about clinical outcomes) to be able to say, I think that mental health would fit into the litmus test just like cancer.

Unagidon,I don't think I disagree with your fundamental point as much as I do with your choice of chemotherapy for a litmus test. If you don't get chemotherapy, you die. If you don't get antihistamines for your allergies, your nose runs and your eyes water. Your chemotherapy litmus test would seem to me to rule out antihistamines, although I am guessing you would say it doesn't. There are those who argue against the "medicalization of everyday life," and what I know of those arguments are bunk. It may be perfectly "natural" for some women to suffer considerable distress while going through menopause. I see no reason why medical science should not do whatever it may safely and reasonably do to ease that distress. Some complain that "ordinary aches and pains" don't require medical treatment. Some complain that antidepressants and other psychiatric drugs are overused, while at the same time we get reports that conditions such as depression are undertreated. On the matter of yearly physicals or even mammograms, I am not saying that preventive care is not important. I am saying two things. First, I don't see how preventive treatment passes your chemotherapy litmus test. Second, I am pointing out that there are serious studies to suggest that yearly physicals, mammograms, and other types of "preventive care" don't actually have significant benefits.

I suggested the litmus test in a specific context, but I probably did it in one of the other threads.One problem we have in the States is people going bankrupt because of catastrophic medical events. Bankruptcy is one problem and the other is that when claims become massive enough, they will eat people's assets up entirely and still not get paid. So everyone else has to cover it (ultimately). This problem could be solved with a high risk pool and the most efficient way to do this would be to have a single pool for the entire country.But even if we did this (and ignoring the underlying medical cost problem which is another issue) a high risk pool would not work well unless there was a good underlying primary care feeder system for it. It would be much cheaper, not to say more humane, for people to have illnesses identified and treated early. So a universal risk pool would HAVE to be coupled with a universal primary care system.I won't address caps and floors or the definition of what the primary care piece would be here. But there would still be a gap (or what we call in the trade a "donut hole") between the primary care piece and the high risk piece. Given the structure of our insurance system now, this hole would be covered for the currently insured by their current insurance plans. That is to say, everyone gets a piece of the primary care and the high risk pool by virtue of being an American. But there would be differentials with the donut hole.People who could not afford insurance at all (or maybe not quite afford it) would be subsidized. But as is the case with things like food stamps, there would be things that are covered and things that are not. To define what is and is not covered I suggested the litmus test. There has to be some sort of outcome based test for what is covered and what is not.There will always be outcome controversies about what works and what doesn't. This is how medicine advances. It's sloppy, but this particular sloppiness is necessary.

But as is the case with things like food stamps, there would be things that are covered and things that are not. To define what is and is not covered I suggested the litmus test.Unagidon,Thanks for putting up with what I suppose some might see as my quibbling.Are we talking here solely about the "public option" (if it succeeds)? I must confess I don't understand it all that well. Is the idea that the government will be offering one and only one health insurance option? That is, in offering an alternative to what insurance companies offer, will the government offer one policy with coverage limited according to some kind of rational about what will be the best coverage for the least money? I had not thought about it much, but I was thinking there would basically be a government-created, public health insurance company that could offer more than one level of coverage. Might the public option be used to steer people to the kind of health care facilities (like the Cleveland Clinic) that have been singled out as good examples in terms of cost control?

The public option is one of many means that the government could use to provide the subsidy that it will need to provide to cover the uninsured. I oppose it because of how it pays providers. I am not afraid of competition, but I don't think it is competition if one of the player can unilaterally set what it pays and the others can't. But whatever kind of public funding we get, we will still have to answer the question of what is and is not covered. What we can't have, because there is no possibility that we can afford it, is some kind of plan that covers all things for all people. Let's save lives first and add on the other stuff later if we decide to.

For non-Catholic Pro-life folks, the matter is very simple; no government money going to fund abortions. For Catholics, the matter is two-fold; no government funding of abortion And, any national medical plan needs to provide universal coverage.In any case, the USCCB requirements are straightforward enough for all to readily understand.

I meant to mention also, that it was a very hopeful sign this weekend when the House passed its version of health care reform and that it adopted the Stupak amendment.Now we shall see if it (ban of funding of elective abortion) survives the reconcilliation and into the final bill the President would sign.Keep praying!:-)