Some readers will recall that I recently argued in favor of keeping more or less the current federal healthcare insurance plan, provided that it be amended fully to exclude abortion and euthanasia, and to protect conscience. My reason was that heathcare insurance in the private market has shown a long-term tendency toward a culture of death. So we may need to keep healthcare insurance public in order for the pro-life majority in this nation to be able to shape it to protect the vulnerable.
Some of my pro-life friends have disagreed with me, sometimes out of a well-founded fear for their own well-being and that of their dear ones. Basically, they make a strong argument against putting all our eggs in one basket, for if we fail in our pro-life remaking of federal public healthcare insurance, we may well be left without any alternative (because the public plan will probably make escape to the market difficult or impossible). Better to leave a way out for ourselves and some others, they reason, rather than to take a chance on losing a fight to save everyone.
So here’s another idea to consider, one that all pro-lifers (I hope!) could support: Let’s stop thinking only about stopping tax-funding for abortion. Let’s make our goal, instead, to make sure no one is ever forced to subsidize anyone else’s abortion unless they make a deliberate choice to do so. Taxpayers, of course, should not be compelled to underwrite abortion.
But our fellow citizens should also not have to pay for abortions via required insurance fees, regardless of whether those fees are demanded by federal law or simply by the rules of private insurers. Only individuals who choose to pay an additional insurance rider for abortion coverage (costing at least some minimal amount) should ever have abortion in their healthcare insurance plans. That way, no one opposed to abortion will ever end up helping to pay for it.
And here’s a bonus: By insisting that people ask for abortion coverage in advance, we promote calm and cool moral deliberation about abortion, i.e truly thoughtful choice, rather than (as now) letting them run away from thinking about abortion until they face a crisis pregnancy and then often no longer have the peace of mind to reason the matter through and choose well.
The above legislation seems to me useful regardless of what happens to “Obamacare”. It might be called “The Freedom of Choice in Abortion Insurance” act.
Richard Stith is professor of law at Valparaiso University School of Law and the author most recently of The Legal Validation of Sexual Relationships (Wm. S. Hein & Co.).