Conservative critics of Obama’s health care reform plans claim that his proposals will intrude on the relationship between a patient and his/her physician. They also claim that Obama will force you to give up the insurance you have now, even if you’re satisfied. The conservatives wouldn’t dream of intruding on the private doctor/patient relationship or disrupting your current insurance.
Unless the subject of abortion comes up. Then, they’re all for getting between a woman and her doctor and disrupting her health insurance coverage. Republicans in Congress and their allies among anti-abortion Democrats are threatening to blow up health care reform negotiations over the prospect of coverage for abortions.
First, some background. 1) Federal law forbids using taxpayer money to pay for abortions. 2) Some private health insurance plans offer coverage for abortions, which, after all, are legal medical procedures. The New York Times says: Nearly half of those with employer-sponsored health plans now have policies that cover abortion, according to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
But a group of Catholic bishops, anti-abortion Democrats and conservative Republicans are up in arms over the subsidies which will be offered to families who cannot afford to purchase insurance. They claim the subsidies will be used to buy policies that cover abortions.
They’re wrong. The legislation sets up an elaborate accounting system which separates private money from public money. That system has been used effectively in states where Medicaid provides for abortions. (Medicaid is paid from both federal and state tax funds; states that allow Medicaid to cover abortions can’t use federal funds to pay for it.)
If the anti-abortion crowd has its way, health insurers would be unlikely to offer coverage for abortions, so those who currently have the coverage would lose it. But that’s okay for conservatives because their goal is make it more difficult for women to obtain abortions.