The latest issue of First Things has a helpful profile on pro-life Democrats  that focuses specifically on Bob Casey, the junior senator from Pennsylvania who replaced Rick Santorum. If you are like me you might have been confused about how exactly the current health care legislation funds abortions. One side, represented by Harry Reid, says it doesn’t, and the other side, by Bart Stupak, says it does. Who is right? Here’s how the author John McCormack lays it out:

At the outset of the debate, Bart Stupak’s biggest challenge was to debunk the claim that the legislation had already banned abortion funding. As a self-described pro-lifer, Tim Ryan wrote a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on July 21 that called for a “common-ground” solution to the problem of abortion in the health-care bill. A week later it was clear that he was working with pro-abortion forces. Ryan told me during a phone interview that an alternative amendment sponsored by Democrat Lois Capps of California (who has a lifetime pro-life rating of zero) made it “very clear that no public money can be used to provide and pay for an abortion.” But Stupak pointed out that this amendment was a “phony compromise.” It allowed both the federally subsidized plans and the public plan to cover elective abortions—all while purporting to ban public funding for abortions through a bookkeeping measure.

How this works is described in greater detail:

Under the proposed Capps amendment, an individual would contribute, say, $500 to purchase an insurance policy, and the federal government would provide that individual with, say, $3000 in subsidies. An abortionist would, on paper, be paid out of the $500 contributed by the individual. As many commentators pointed out at the time, this is a distinction without a difference. The Capps amendment was a significant departure from current law, which prohibits insurance plans for federal employees from covering abortions.

This is like saying that my insurance company doesn’t pay for abortions, because money given to an abortion provider comes directly out of my premium. Of course, providers are not in the least interested in where the money comes from, and only in whether or not the bill can be paid. And everyone knows that having the credibility of insurance coverage on your side helps you get seen by a clinic in almost every case.

While McCormack does a good job at exposing the duplicity of several Democrats who caved on the life issue, I never thought I would see the day where the biggest cause in pro-life politics today is being taken up by a Democrat. For more of  McCormack’s coverage go here.

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