Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ellen Bueno: Democrats dealing this one from the bottom

car insurance

Let’s pretend I decided to drink and drive last weekend. Let’s say I got in my car after drinking all Sunday afternoon (grieving over the Packer game) and wove my way down Highway 12, while attempting to text a friend. As I tried to focus on the buttons swimming before my eyes, I drove through a red light and plowed into the car your child was driving. We both needed to be hospitalized, and both cars were totaled.

You discover that I’m self-employed and never bought health or car insurance because I’d rather spend the money that would go toward insurance premiums on casino gambling. So, I don’t have a way to pay my medical bills or replace my car. Some of my well-meaning friends decide to hold a fundraiser for me in hopes of raising money for my expenses.

Would you be interested in contributing? No? You say I was careless and inconsiderate of others. I should grow up and take responsibility for the choices I’ve made – and pay my own bills, for cryin’ out loud.

Oh, groan. You sound like my mom. So I made a series of irresponsible choices that resulted in a serious situation that I don’t want to face. Why should I be entitled to less charity than say, a woman who wants taxpayers to fund her abortion?

Many of us would be doing just that if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other progressive lawmakers had their way. The House health care reform bill was originally worded to allow tax-funded subsidies to be used for elective abortions. Section 222 described "Abortions for which Public Funding is Allowed," and section 213 described the monthly abortion premiums that would be charged to everyone enrolled in the government-run plan.

But Democrats representing districts with pro-life majorities objected. So did the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. After the Senate Finance Committee rejected a Republican amendment to protect conscience rights, the bishops sent a letter to Congress on Oct. 8, saying, "No one should be required to pay for or participate in abortion." The bishops are in favor of health care reform, but stated, "We remain apprehensive when amendments protecting freedom of conscience and ensuring no taxpayer money for abortion are defeated in committee votes."

Over the weekend House representatives argued bitterly over abortion funding until Pelosi resigned herself to the fact that the bill would not pass without the support of the pro-life Democrats. She allowed a vote on the Stupak amendment that bans abortion coverage in any government plan and any private plan receiving federal subsidies, except in cases of rape, incest or to save the mother’s life. The amendment passed, which cleared the way for the House to narrowly approve the health care bill late Saturday night.

It’s good that most representatives remember that they serve the people, not Nancy Pelosi, but the whole episode revealed a couple of very troubling aspects about the Democratic leadership.

First, it can’t be trusted. Last August President Obama told a coalition of religious groups, "You’ve heard that this is all going to mean government funding of abortion. Not true." But in late August the non-profit, non-partisan Factcheck.org said "As for the House bill as it stands now, it’s a matter of fact that it would allow both a ‘public plan’ and newly subsidized private plans to cover all abortions." Nevertheless, on September 9 Obama told Congress, "No federal dollars will be used to fund abortions." But we just witnessed Speaker Pelosi pushing for federal abortion funding.

What’s going on? Did the President not know about the abortion funding provisions in the bill while he was claiming they didn’t exist? Shouldn’t he have checked? Or did he know about them, but kept promising the government wouldn’t fund abortions anyway? Isn’t that lying?

Second, it’s not very "pro-choice" of Pelosi and Company to deny us the right to choose whether to fund abortions. In America we don’t force people to do things they believe are morally wrong. I shouldn’t have to pay for abortions any more than a vegetarian should have to eat a Big Mac.

We will have to keep an eagle eye on the Senate as it wrangles over the final version of its health care bill, because, unfortunately, it’s unlikely we’ll get a fair deal from the Democrats holding the cards.

Ellen Bueno has lived in Baraboo for 21 years and is the reader member of the News Republic’s editorial board.