Today's New York Times essentially owns up to what conservatives have been saying, and what President Obama branded a lie during his joint address to Congress: federal funding for abortion is very much on the table in the health care debate. Let's take a look:
Abortion opponents in both the House and the Senate are seeking to block the millions of middle- and lower-income people who might receive federal insurance subsidies to help them buy health coverage from using the money on plans that cover abortion.
Hard cases make bad grammar, apparently.
Abortion-rights supporters say such a restriction would all but eliminate from the marketplace private plans that cover the procedure, pushing women who have such coverage to give it up.
In other words, up for discussion is what happens if the plan is structured to subsidize nominally private plans rather than a "public option." Under a public option, the issue would be squarely presented: the plan would cover abortions, or not. In the case of subsidies, it would be indirect. Abortion supporters are concerned that this would entangle the government in regulating private plans' provision of insurance for abortion, but of course the whole health-care proposal is about the government regulating all sorts of things the insurers can and can't cover (recall the exhaustive list of things Obama, in his speech, said would be henceforth prohibited or mandated). The point of keeping the health care sector private is to get government out of those decisions. Once it's in the door regulating everything else, it rings hollow for the proponents of all that other regulation to say that objecting to subsidizing plans that cover abortion isn't the business of the people doing the subsidizing. Consider this line:
The bills would also mandate the availability in each state of at least one plan that covers abortion and at least one that does not.
The question looms as a test of President Obama’s campaign pledge to support abortion rights but seek middle ground with those who do not. Mr. Obama has promised for months that the health care overhaul would not provide federal money to pay for elective abortions, but White House officials have declined to spell out what he means.
Yes, well, he said he'd seek middle ground, but on every substantive issue his record and pledges hewed to the furthest-left position possible. He also pledged to restore federal funding for abortion, but the Times won't tell its readers that.
Democratic Congressional leaders say the latest House and Senate health care bills preserve the spirit of the current ban on federal abortion financing by requiring insurers to segregate their public subsidies into separate accounts from individual premiums and co-payments. Insurers could use money only from private sources to pay for abortions.
But opponents say that is not good enough, because only a line on an insurers’ accounting ledger would divide the federal money from the payments for abortions. The subsidies would still help people afford health coverage that included abortion.
Precisely so, as anyone remotely familiar with the fungibility of money and the pricing of any sort of service could tell you. The Democrats' defense is that they are already using a similar system to evade the Hyde Amendment in the Medicaid program:
Supporters of the current segregated-money model argue that 17 state Medicaid programs that cover elective abortions use a similar system, dividing their federal financing from state revenues they use to pay for procedures.
Moreover, it's not just the Republicans balking. Democrats like Bob Casey, who claim to be pro-life while supporting only Supreme Court Justices they believe will uphold Roe v Wade, are finding the pro-abortion extremism of the health care bills too much to swallow. As a result, even the Times can no longer deny what Obama has been furiously insisting was a complete fiction: that unless it includes a solid prohibition, a vote for the health care bill is a vote for federal taxpayer money subsidizing abortion.