Steven Waldman

Steven Waldman

De-Fusing the Abortion Bomb on Health Care Reform — More Ideas!

I earlier threw out some ideas for how we could keep the abortion issue from blowing up health care reform. I suggested having the basic plan not cover abortion but allow people, with their own money, pay for a rider that would cover abortion. Here’s the full proposal.
Meredith Simons at Slate offers an even more radical idea: make abortion funding entirely a private matter. Progressive donors donor would contribute to a private fund that would pay for abortions:

Abortions, at an average of $413 a pop, are cheap…. According to the Guttmacher Institute, a fund to provide free abortions to every woman in the United States would cost about $500 million per year. A fund limited to low-income women–those at or below 200 percent of the poverty line–would still cover most women who seek abortions, according to the most recently available data, at a cost of just $311 million per year…
Progressives hate the idea of a private abortion fund. They argue that abortion is a medical procedure like any other and should be covered by any insurance plan, public or private. Nobody has to set up charities for appendectomies–why do it for abortions?
The answer is: Because it might get them everything else they want. If pro-life lawmakers seriously regard abortion as a matter of life and death, an agreement not to cover it should seal their support for health care reform. To get that agreement, they would have to waive their objections to other progressive goals: a public option, an individual mandate, and an employer mandate. Wouldn’t that be a better deal for most women than what they have now?


Read his full proposal here.
I like my idea better but one advantage of Simons’ is that abortion and contraception policy would become less encumbered by Congressional politics. If this fund wanted to heavily fund distribution of Plan B, for instance, it could do so, wthout caring whether some Blue Dog would bark.

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posted August 13, 2009 at 4:56 pm

So you are poor or working poor and you find yourself in need of an abortion. You have health insurance, but you never purchased the riders because, well, most people don’t plan on needing an abortion. So you are out of luck? If we toss in contraceptives coverage–and the same folks who want to cut of abortion coverage would be thrilled to not cover contraceptives–where does that leave you?
The fund is worse. You need an abortion and can’t afford it. So you have to beg some fund to cover you? How long will that take?
I agree, ultimately, that if pro-life activists are going to hold health care reform hostage through abortion–and it appears the Catholic Bishops are prepared to deny millions of people health coverage all because of abortion–than maybe it’s a necessary compromise.
It’s just a pity.

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Fudging the Math won't fill the gap of women in need

posted August 19, 2009 at 11:41 am

Turns out Ms. Simons’ solve-it-all proposal at has had a series of corrections made on her column since its post, due to some astonishingly faulty math.

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