On the anti-abortion barricades

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Over at America‘s In All Things blog, Michael Sean Winters slams his co-religionist pro-life zealots for demonizing Sen. Bob Casey’s effort to devise an abortion compromise in the health care bill. As Winters points out, the folks at National Right to Life are opposed to health care reform altogether, so their anti-abortion zealotry needs to be taken as pretextual as well as principled.

The same cannot be said for the Catholic bishops, who continue to pound the pavement for Stupak and its progeny even as they claim to support the rest of the bill. (They would like immigrants included too.) What’s at best disingenuous, however, is their continual recourse to the Hyde Amendment as the sacred text of federal health coverage.

The point to bear in mind is that the federal subsidies (I wish they’d make them vouchers) that are designed to help those of modest means buy health insurance are something new under America’s health care sun. When it comes to “federal funding of abortion on demand,” at the end of the day they are really no different from a pregnant woman on public assistance (TANF or Food Stamps or whatever) using “her own funds” to procure an abortion. The public support makes it easier for her to afford the procedure. In terms of identifiable dollars, she could well use a federal check to pay for it. And (as Winters points out) that’s to say nothing about the way Medicaid permits states to cover abortion on demand with their own additions to the federal subsidy.

Helping subsidize the cost of living for pregnant women in any way makes it easier for them to get abortions. For some in the pro-life community, that would seem to be reason enough not to help them out at all, ever.