Shenna Bellows, executive director of the Maine Civil Liberties Union, worries that President Obama’s latest effort to pander to conservative critics of his health-care-reform plan will make it harder for women to obtain abortions.
Obama has promised that the legislation he ultimately backs will be abortion-neutral. Federal law already prohibits government funding for abortions except in cases of rape, incest or if the woman’s life is in danger. And regardless of what abortion-rights advocates might wish, it makes sense for Obama not to open up another front in the health-care fight. Among other things, it would be huge if the Catholic bishops could be induced into endorsing health-care reform — and very possible as long as the status quo on abortion is maintained.
But abortion rights certainly should not be cut back. The problem is, Bellows argues (citing a New York Times report), the president’s plan could lead some private insurers to drop abortion coverage that they now provide.
Ironically enough, the possible restriction on abortion rights would be the direct consequence of a public option. One more reason, perhaps, to drop something that, whatever its objective merits, has become little more than a contentious sideshow.