National Catholic Report Supports Health Reform

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The National Catholic Reporter is joining American nuns and the Catholic Health Association in breaking with the Bishops and endorsing the health reform bill, offering the observation that “the bishops have to be clear that some of their talking points might lead honest observers to question their competence — or worse.”

Bottom line: The current legislation is not “pro-abortion,” and there is no, repeat no, federal funding of abortion in the bill.

Meanwhile, writing in The Washington Post last Sunday, T.R. Reid, a first-rate journalist, a Catholic, and author of “The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care.” argues persuasively that industrialized countries that achieve universal or near-universal insurance coverage have a demonstrably lower abortion rate than we have in the United States. It should matter to those who believe in the sacredness of all human life that this legislation will not only provide health care to those who don’t currently possess it, but will encourage women facing crisis pregnancies to choose life. Given the intractable nature of the abortion debate in the United States, this amounts to a pro-life victory of historic proportions

Some of the efforts to prove that the bill “really” includes federal funding of abortion despite not actually providing federal funding of abortion have gotten a bit silly. I mean it’s true that if we pass universal health care this will probably increase the market demand for those sterile gloves doctors wear during exams, which will increase the earnings of people who deliver boxes of gloves, and some of the glove-deliverers might use that money to pay for abortions. Short of making abortion illegal, and then very rigorously enforcing the law, there’s no way to ensure that no dollars will reach an abortion clinic through some roundabout path. But the exact same consideration holds for any conceivable legislation on any subject.

Relative to existing law, health reform legislation should somewhat reduce the demand for abortions and leave the status quo in terms of financing intact.