In the tense hours preceding the healthcare bill vote, Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrangled, cajoled, arm-twisted and earmarked her way to the 218 votes necessary for passage. Part of her negotiations included bringing into the fold pro-life Democrats who protested any public funding of abortion in a public option healthcare plan.
To obtain her needed majority, Pelosi allowed inclusion of an amendment co-authored by Congressmen Bart Stupak (D) and Joe Pitts (R) which prevents taxpayer funding of abortion within the government healthcare plan. Going even further, the amendment also prevents private insurance plans from covering abortions if their customers receive some type of government subsidy for healthcare.
No sooner had the healthcare legislation passed than some pro-life leaders immediately proclaimed victory for the inclusion of such restrictions on abortion in the new government-run healthcare system. Granted, any exclusion of abortion funding in a Democrat-controlled Congress is significant. But in the culture war to regain true sanctity of life, prohibiting abortion funding in a bill that overall disregards the sanctity of life, this was not a pro-life victory.
The Stupak-Pitts amendment could end up being a brilliant political tactic: a poison pill provision that, if included in the final version of the bill, would dissuade President Obama from signing it into law. However, Obama’s commitment to passing socialist healthcare surpasses any commitment to public funding of abortion.
Imposing a radical new government program that will increase public dependence on a gargantuan centralized government is paramount for Democrat leaders who seem to have no regard for individual liberty. And as long as Roe vs. Wade is allowed to stand as the law of the land, Congress and other government agencies will find ways to fund their abortion allies.
Pro-life leaders should know better than anyone that legislative subterfuge and parliamentary chicanery can just as easily reinsert abortion funding at any time—after the gaining votes from gullible pro-lifers for the bill’s initial passage. There’s no stopping Democrats from providing public option abortion funding in later legislation, when more Democrats will vote for a less controversial measure than the polarizing healthcare bill.
Although Nancy Pelosi was successful in gaining the votes of pro-lifers with the Stupak-Pitts amendment, those pro-lifers who voted for the bill should understand that they in fact set back the pro-life movement with their vote. Government-run healthcare deals with more than just the abortion aspect of the sanctity of life issue.
Earlier this summer the so-called “death panels” debate raged over whether the healthcare bill would allow government bureaucrats to determine end-of-life care and treatment for the seriously ill. The inclusion of euthanasia policies seemed a real possibility. Even President Obama floated the idea of cutting care for those who where elderly; suggesting pain pills instead of surgery. Democrats denounced accusations that government healthcare would ever include policies denying care to anyone—after all, isn’t the purpose of benevolent government to care for those whom the miserly private insurance companies won’t help?
But if the track record for government healthcare in other countries is any indication, rationing is inevitable. And rationing means that the least productive members of society—particularly the disabled and elderly—will be the first to lose their care. Utilitarianism cannot justify expending resources for those who won’t return on the investment.
To be pro-life means to affirm life in all its stages and forms—preborn, disabled, and elderly. Euthanasia is just as deplorable as abortion. Since its inception, America has been a beacon of light in the world because it was founded on the principle that life is a sacred right given by God alone—not government. A public-option system, which is really a no-other-option system, in which the government can prevent life-saving care based on a purely utilitarian rationale, is a direct violation of our nation’s mission statement:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”
Most pro-life leaders have stated that even with the Stupak-Pitts amendment, they oppose the healthcare bill for the very reason that government should not be given life-and-death power over healthcare. Pro-life advocates must not fall for the short-term victory of banning abortion funding in one government program at the cost of losing their long-term pro-life cause.