By Laura Chapin, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
The Congressional Busybody Caucus has struck again. On Monday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told the Washington Post that leadership was negotiating feverishly with a group of Democrats threatening to deep-six healthcare reform over the issue of abortion. Joined by a larger block of anti-choice Republicans, this group is afraid that a woman who receives federally-funded healthcare coverage might therefore be able to buy private health insurance coverage that includes abortion.
With all respect due to members of Congress, this officially falls into the None of Your Damn Business category. Like it or not, abortion is a legal medical procedure and is included in private health insurance plans just like any other legal medical procedure. Would this contingent have a problem with federal funds going to subsidize a kidney transplant?
And as for the 'moral objection' question on taxpayer funding, I have a moral objection to funding war profiteers while they run amok abroad in the name of the United States and by extension, me. Contractors allegedly gang-raped a co-worker in Baghdad, and KBR's incompetence, a U.S. Army investigator concluded, led to the electrocution death of a soldier in Iraq (overall 18 Americans have been inadvertently electrocuted in Iraq). We've spent more than a billion taxpayer dollars on the mercenaries of Blackwater, charged with manslaughter for killing Iraqi civilians and the object of multiple civil suits for war crimes in Iraq.
So to the representatives threatening to hold up healthcare because a few federal dollars might slip through the cracks, where was your moral grandstanding when you approved spending taxpayer dollars on these folks?
The fact is, we all have our tax dollars going to things we don't like and don't approve of, but that's part of the compromise required to live in a complex democracy. Abortion, however, gets regularly singled out for public disapproval. There's a whiff of a double standard here, since women's reproductive rights seem to strike particular fear and loathing into the hearts of policymakers.
Congress has the potential to do something that hasn't been accomplished in half a century of good intentions—making healthcare affordable and accessible for the vast majority of American citizens. Republicans are attempting to torpedo it because they don't believe in healthcare reform. Anti-choice Democrats shouldn't enable that failure because of a misplaced desire to interfere with a woman's private healthcare decision.