A Philosopher's Blog

Health Care & Abortion

Posted in Ethics, Politics by Michael LaBossiere on March 25, 2010
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The debate about whether the health care bill would cover abortions led to considerable controversy as well as the shouting of “it’s a baby killer.” Ant-abortion folks were, of course, determined to abort any abortion coverage and were rather loud about the matter. The end result was that there will not be federally funded abortion funding under the bill. There will be, however, exceptions for situations involving rape, incest or when the mother’s life is in danger. Those who wish to get abortion coverage will need to buy their own coverage.

On the face of it, this seems reasonable. After all, coverage is provided in cases in which abortion is medically necessary as well as in cases when abortion is almost universally regarded as morally acceptable. Cases in which abortion would be a matter of choice rather than medical necessity would not be funded. In most cases, medical coverage should follow this pattern: what is medically necessary should be covered and what is not should require purchasing additional coverage (or perhaps not be covered at all).

However, this pattern is not always followed. In some cases, what is not medically necessary (like Viagra) is covered while what is actually necessary (like the brace I needed after my quadriceps tendon repair surgery) is not covered. As such, it could be argued that if coverage is provided for other medically unnecessary things, then the same should apply to abortion (and if abortion is not covered, then these other things should not be covered either). So, if abortion is not to be funded when it is a matter of choice, the same principle should be applied across the board.

Another obvious point of concern is that the arguments against providing coverage for abortion tended to be moral or religious arguments. To be specific, the general idea is that since abortion is wrong (or people do not want to fund it), then federal money should not be used to fund it. Of course, if that were to be adopted as a general principle (if X is wrong or people do not want to fund X, then X cannot be funded with federal money), then many things that federal money funds (like war) would have to be cut as well.

Of course, if we should use religious views to decide what should be funded by the state, why not save a lot of money on health care and just go with Christian Science?

Turning back to the main point, it could be argued that the state has to fund things that are regard as immoral by some (such as war) for the general good. After all, while money used to buy weapons kills people, this is acceptable for the greater good. Interestingly,the same sort of argument could be given for funding abortion with federal money.

One final point is that the bill does not seem to ban, limit or restrict abortions. While it could be argued that not paying for an abortion restricts it, that is a poor argument. After all, the federal government does not pay for my running shoes, but it does not thus limit or restrict my right to run.

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4 Responses

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  1. T. J. Babson said, on March 25, 2010 at 11:06 am

    In what sense is Viagra “not medically necessary?” Viagra is used when the body is not functioning properly.

    • P.E.N.Name said, on March 25, 2010 at 6:10 pm

      I hear it can also be used when the body is functioning properly. Heightens the experience, I hear.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on March 26, 2010 at 1:47 pm

      Sometimes it is. However, not being able to get it up is not a threat to health. It can, of course, be the sign of an underlying health problem and that should be what is treated.

  2. P.E.N.Name said, on March 25, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    From what I’m reading, the position this bill takes on abortion is the status quo ante (one of Condi Rice’s favorite phrases).

    I’m not going to say for sure that that’s the case. I don’t want to fall into the generalization pattern that reads 46% in the polls and concludes that “The AMERICAN PEOPLE have registered their disdain for this bill.” The mode of thinking that predicted “ARMAGEDDON” upon the passage of the bill.

    Seems,the federal government’s position is just as it was before the bill was passed. Seems like the anti-”BABY-KILLERS” (aka pro-ADULT WOMEN-and ABORTIONIST KILLERS”–oops–my apologies–The constant opposition drumbeat can have a dangerously hypnotic effect. I should go back and edit, but, again, sometimes those perverted opposition patterns of operation can be SO tenacious). . .Now where was I?

    Oh. It appears the pro-life :) movement ,wanted the government to take one step back from the status quo because they’ve been relatively unsuccessful in rolling back Roe v Wade in referenda and court decisions.


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