There is a great deal of debate right now, as a subset of the health care debate, about whether abortion is or ought to be covered by a taxpayer funded program. Over and over, reports and studies show us that the current plans do cover abortion, but the moral debate obviously is not over. Salon’s Broadsheet posted the “10 Reasons Abortion Must Be Covered.” It begins:
Abortion should be covered by health insurance. We say this, we sense this, we assume this. We insist that abortion is simply a medical procedure -- and that it, therefore, merits coverage.
Calling abortion “simply a medical procedure” is like saying murder is “just another way to use a knife.” Medical procedure or not, it is the ethics of the issue which matter in this case, and outside of some polling concerns and worries about a “slippery slope,” the post is not that interested in raising the central ethical question. Among the 10 reasons, Lynn Harris lists these.
1. Abortion is legal medical care.
2. Abortion is common, mainstream medical care.
Both of these considerations only beg the question. It is true that in most cases in most states, abortion is legal, but again, that side-steps the fundamental ethical issues. By this reasoning we might be able to say that because euthanasia is legal in Switzerland (it is, and it is a growing business), the government has a duty to financially provide for doctor assisted suicide. The legality or illegality of any act does not settle the moral question.
5. Covering abortion makes abortion safer.
This is a standard chestnut pulled out at every opportunity. As more real statistical work is done, the more the claims of the tens of thousands of deaths by back-alley abortions becomes an urban legend. It just has not been proven (it has been asserted abundantly!) that legality makes for safety where there was none before.
7. Excluding abortion from coverage sends us down a slippery "moral" slope.
Here the author is worried that if we begin to look at these provisions through the eyes of a particular moral view, then we will be down a path of removing all kinds of other legal protections as a result of that view. That may or may not be the case, but if there is at least one immoral act we can exclude from taxpayer funding, I don’t think this is a compelling reason not to try.