I was really disappointed with President Obama during his speech last week on health care reform. The president stated unequivocally that federal dollars would not be used to fund abortion. The media focus about Obama’s speech has been on Joe Wilson’s finger pointing, but I think that they’re overlooking a really important part of the president’s speech. But just to be clear, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius stated on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday that abortions would not be covered under the health care reform package.
This is ten pounds of monkey crap in a five pound bag. President Obama campaigned on a pro-choice platform and made some very specific promises to the pro-choice movement during the campaign. So far, he has failed to follow through on anything except the repeal of the Mexico City Policy. Although pro-choice advocates were originally hopeful that Obama would repeal the Bush policy that allows pharmacists and doctors to refuse to provide contraceptives or information about abortions based upon moral objections, so far he has not delivered the goods. This latest statement on government funding for abortions is just the latest sign that Obama is not going to keep his promises to the Democratic base, but rather that he is pandering to the far right. It’s going to be a costly mistake in my opinion.
Here’s why Obama’s statement about abortion funding is total crap. On Obama’s website he has several points about his health care plan that are in direct contradiction with the statement about abortion. Specifically, he states that his plan
- Limits premium discrimination based on gender and age.
- Offers a public health insurance option to provide the uninsured and those who can’t find affordable coverage with a real choice.
President Obama has consistently argued that health care reform would leave people better off than they are in the Status Quo, but I don’t know how his pronouncement about abortion fits within that statement. For starters, if you’re going to limit funding for abortions, that is discrimination based on gender. Secondly, those who can’t afford health care coverage are also those who are going to need assistance paying for an abortion. While 80% of health insurance providers offer coverage for abortions, this only helps people who have health insurance. I understand the political strategy behind the statement that abortion will not be included in a public option, but I think it’s a waste of an opportunity to overturn the Hyde Amendment, which has made federal funding for abortion illegal since 1973. If you can’t get is done with a Democratic president and a Democratic majority in both houses of Congress, then it’s never going to happen. So let’s get this done already.
Let’s be honest – Republicans are not going to vote for health care reform. They didn’t vote for it in 1994, and they’re not going to vote for it now. Abortion, coverage for undocumented immigrants, and so-called “death panels” are all a red herring. The Republicans aren’t going to vote for health care reform, regardless of what is included in the package. So why is Obama pandering to these people? He needs to be shoring up his support with the Democratic base, which is solidly pro-choice, or he’s not going to get re-elected in 2012. That’s just the truth.