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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