A Philosopher's Blog

Abortion & Heath Care

Posted in Ethics, Law, Politics by Michael LaBossiere on November 23, 2009

One issue that has become part of the American health reform debate is that of abortion. Oversimplifying things a bit, some folks are very concerned that public money will be used to pay for abortions and they are fighting to prevent this.

It might be believed that the politicians who oppose using public money for abortion are acting on the basis of principle. After all, they claim to be taking this stance based on a moral opposition to abortion. Of course, the cynical might suspect that this stand is not such much a matter of principle as a matter of politics. However, let it be assumed that they are acting on the basis of principle. An important question is, of course, what principle is being used.

The obvious principle is that public money should not be used to fund things that are immoral. Alternatively, the principle could be that public money should not be used for what people disagree with.

The first option seems rather reasonable-after all, since immoral things should not be done, that it makes sense that public money should not be used to make such things possible. Of course, there is still the matter of whether abortion is immoral or not.

The second option also has some appeal. After all, people should have a say in how their money is being spent-this is a basic principle of democratic government. Also, an analogy could be presented by comparing this to a phone bill. If a get a phone bill that includes services I do not want and do not use, then I should not have to pay for those services. Likewise, the same should apply to tax money.

Of course, this principle has to be applied consistently: if people can insist that public money not be spent on abortion, then people can make the same insistence in regards to things that they oppose. For example, people who are morally against war can insist that no public funds be spent on wars. As another example, people who are opposed to using public money to pay for abstinence education could also insist that public money not be used in that manner. Of course, given that people are opposed to a wide variety of things on moral grounds, there would be very little left that public funds could be spent on. This would, of course, be something of a problem.

Of course, there is a way to address the problem of reconciling the right people have to choose and the need for public money to be used on things like defense, art, unemployment benefits, infrastructure and so on. That is to follow the decisions of the majority. Of course, this raises the concern that the majority might use its power to tyrannize the numerical minorities. However, allowing every numerical minority to tyrannize the majority based on their moral disagreement would probably be even worse.

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6 Responses

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  1. T. J. Babson said, on November 23, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    I’m curious why abortion should be covered but not botox shots or breast implants or liposuction?

    What is the principle here?

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on November 23, 2009 at 8:10 pm

      Hard to say. In politics, the principle usually is “money talks.” But, my view is that abortions that are needed for the health or survival of the woman should be covered. After all, that would be a medically necessary procedure and that is the sort of thing insurance is supposed to cover.

  2. kernunos said, on November 24, 2009 at 2:10 am

    Ah, I think it lies in the beginnings of the Progressive Movement. After all, it was their idea in the first place. They practically worship Margaret Sanger and bring her name up every now and then. They are just carrying on her good work.

  3. magus71 said, on November 24, 2009 at 2:41 am

    “But, my view is that abortions that are needed for the health or survival of the woman should be covered.”

    Oh–you mean approx 1% of all abortions.

    Ok.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on November 24, 2009 at 5:58 pm

      Quite so. Those should be covered, even by any public option.

      • kernunos said, on November 24, 2009 at 9:07 pm

        There should be NO public option so I guess it is an invalid point. No compromise like Obama likes playing with troop numbers.


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