"Do no harm" is a vital political principle as much as it is a medical maxim. But the White House has abandoned such wisdom on both counts when it comes to its so-called healthcare-reform crusade.
No one bothered to ask the president about abortion or his political prescriptions when he held his primetime healthcare press conference in mid-July. And even if someone did, the president's answer, like everything else, would have been obscured by the controversy surrounding the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., which became a drama so hot only a "beer summit" would begin to squelch the flames of the media frenzy. Besides, President Obama has already gone on record saying that debates about abortion's place in the legislation are a "distraction." Details could be hashed out later -- say, in conference, where, by the way, the C-SPAN cameras aren't going.
But there is good reason to be alarmed. The two major healthcare bills that Congress is examining would, according to Douglas Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee, "result in federally mandated coverage of abortion by nearly all health plans, federally mandated recruitment of abortionists by local health networks and nullification of many state abortion laws. They would also result in federal funding of abortion on a massive scale." In the House, all attempts to add to the bill amendments that would prevent any abortion-coverage mandates or federal subsidies for abortion have failed.
But most Americans probably have no idea this is happening. After all, "abortion" does not appear in any of the legislation making rounds on the Hill. And while the full texts of the House and Senate bills have yet to become available, and keeping track of all the moving parts of the much-talked-about Obama healthcare revolution is a full-time job, Johnson and others have been labeled liars by talking points making their way throughout the Internet. A Web site purportedly devoted to "information and analysis for reproductive health" has been chief among those wielding the L-word as a tactic. If you look past the administration's (and other people's) obfuscation, however, the truth becomes all too apparent.