I'd like to commend to all RLL readers, at least if they also occasionally read Mirror of Justice, two newspaper stories recently cited and linked to by Rick Garnett and Greg Sisk at the latter site. The reason is that I take very different impressions away from those stories than those highlighted by Rick and, especially, by Greg, and so I worry that some who do not read the full stories might take what I would regard as an inaccurate impression away from such posts as theirs.
The first sentence of Greg Sisk's second paragraph, for example, elides quickly from quoted words concerning 'demand for abortions,' to quoted words concerning a 'possible increase in demand because of the new federal health care bill.' Examination of the full article, however, quickly reveals that ten paragraphs separate these quoted phrases, and that the 'demand' referenced in the second phrase is demand for clinic services generically considered. Those services actually specified are birth control and disease screening. As for abortion, the article cites Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, 'the state's leading voice against abortion, [as being] sharply critical of the [health insurance reform bill] because it would provide more funding for community clinics like those operated by Planned Parenthood, though not for abortion.'
Other noteworthy passages in the two articles, from my point of view anyway, include the following:
'Minnesota ... is one of 17 states that pays [sic] for low-income women to receive abortions through Medicaid, the result of a 1995 decision by the state Supreme Court.' (Second page of Greg's linked article.) This of course invites the question - at least for those like me who know little of the details of Medicaid law or Minnesota constitutional law - whether abortion opponents should be arguing for repeal of Medicaid, or amendment of the Minnesota state constitution, or both. My guess is we don't hear such calls for reasons not unlike those that explain our not hearing calls to shut down the interstate highway system, the power grids, and like government-afforded goods that incidentally affect abortion availability.
'Most health insurers in Michigan pay for abortions, but not necessarily for birth control.' (From Rick's linked article.) This of course re-raises a question I raised at MoJ in December and March - viz., why are abortion opponents not arguing, as I have argued, for requirements that insurance companies that offer policies covering abortion also offer identical policies not covering abortion. It also re-raises another question I raised in March - viz., how many abortion opponents, including at MoJ, are insured by insurers who offer abortion coverage?
'Recession has heightened demand for contraception and for abortion, especially from clients who wouldn't have gone to Planned Parenthood in better times. "Over the last couple of years, we've been getting calls that go, 'I'm pregnant, we don't have health insurance, my husband isn't working and we can't afford another child.' These calls have become routine for us," says Lamerand [a Michigan PP executive officer].' (Again from Rick's linked article.) This of course once again suggests - though of course only suggests, as distinguished from statistically corroborating - a correlation between economic hardship and perceived need of reproductive health services and abortions.
I don't wish in quoting and commenting as I do here to suggest that I've any firm view as yet concerning the merits of various claims made by defenders and critics of PP or the health insurance reform legislation where abortion is concerned. I wish only to highlight the fact that the two cited articles appear to tell rather more than a simply a 'health insurance reform legislation funds and increases the incidence of evil deeds - abortions - by evil entity - Planned Parenthood' story. Matters appear rather more complex than that on all scores, and accordingly invite careful further inquiry.
A final point: I've read apparently carefully reasoned opinions by such as Tim Jost to the effect that no federal funds will be proximately led by the new legislation to the subsidization of abortions, and carefully reasoned opinions by such as the USCCB to the contrary effect (not to mention Robby George's latest post at MoJ on this matter), and confess to not knowing who has the better of this argument. I'm just not sufficiently well versed in the intricacies of health law.
But it seems to me there's a much easier way for abortion opponents to handle this uncertainty than continuing to read various peoples' attempts at parsing statutory and regulatory 'language' (which often seems scarcely lingual): Monitor actual expenditures, with a view to determining whether federal funds actually do begin funding abortions in some manner that they have not done prior to the legislation. Then if they do, act to close the apparently unintended loophole. My guess is that it would be easy to procure legislation to do that, as for better or worse, there does seem to be broad political consensus that federal funding programs should be abortion-neutral in recognition of the continuingly deep legal and political controversy on this fraught subject.
And while at it, by the way, lest any be criticizing the motes in our neighbors' eyes while ignoring the beams in our own, let any of us who oppose federal funding for abortion look to our own insurance plans while asking whether, in purchasing our policies from them, we are ourselves alreadly subsidizing abortions in much more direct ways than the federal government is accused now by some of doing. And let us also focus efforts on seriously ending the economic dysfunction and poverty that seem to prompt so much perceived need of contraception or abortion, as well as on the provision of better alternatives to those that many now seem to experience as sole alternatives. It seems better, as the blessed proverb has it, to light even one candle than to curse the darkness.
Blessings and Peace to All,