A SPECTRE IS HAUNTING HEALTH REFORM

It is the spectre of abortion … 

I have to confess that I haven’t given much thought to the abortion issue as it relates to health care reform. Like most observers, I’ve been thinking about mandates, the public option, etc.

Nonetheless, as Dan Riehl points out, abortion has been looming menacingly in the background. And it may well be the thing that finally applies the third-trimester suction tube to Obamacare:

Moderate and conservative Dems are already feeling exposed due to all the concessions they’ve made on a number of policies. This could easily be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

Many of these guys come from districts with high concentrations of fundamentalist Christians, and these voters (and they do vote) won’t take kindly to a vote in favor government-paid-for abortions.

At present, the Hyde Amendment prevents Medicaid from paying for abortions, but a lot of people fear that whatever “reform” bill comes out of Congress will circumvent that impediment.

And it’s not just Bible Belt protestants who object to the idea of federal funding for abortions. As Riehl also mentions, Catholic hospitals aren’t about to allow abortion in their facilities:

The stumbling block is especially huge given the dynamics of many of our largest cities. Catholic hospitals carry the bulk of the load for health care in those areas. They’ve already dug in their heels on this a long time ago, claiming they would close facilities before allowing them to perform abortions.

Ironically, such closures would present fewer problems for Obamacare passage than one might think. It’s an open secret in the industry that Beltway policy wonks think we have too many hospitals.

In other words, they fully expect many hospitals to close and consider that a positive outcome. That many patients would be left without nearby medical facilities is of little concern to these people.

Remember—-their Medicare and Medicaid price controls have already forced more than a thousand community hospitals, most in rural areas, to shut down during the past couple of decades.

In the end, these people aren’t especially interested in health care, or reform for that matter. They’re about power and money. If some pesky Catholics shut down a hospital or two, c’est la vie.

But if the abortion issue scares the Blue Dogs enough that they are willing to turn on their masters, then we could see Obamacare gnawed down to little more than a symbolic legislative gesture.

UPDATE I:

The importance of the abortion issue was clearly highlighted by the vote on the egregious House “reform” bill. The only reason Pelosi and her accomplices were able to get it done was by adding language that precluded federal funding for abortion. Her’s how Morrissey expresses it:

The Democrats wheedled, cajoled, begged, and finally abandoned its defense of abortion — truly a watershed moment — in order to get their version of ObamaCare passed … in the House of Representatives, where they enjoy a 75-seat majority. 

Will the abortion lobby allow that sort of compromise in the final Senate bill. I rather doubt it. Abortion may kill the whole sorry project.

UPDATE II:

For a more wonkish analysis of the Stupak amendment, and its significance for the Democrat health “reform” project, Timothy Jost discusses it at Health Affairs. Noting that HR 3972 provided “affordability credits” to which abortion opponenets objected:

Credits could be used to purchase health plans that covered abortions, however, as long as a covered plan member paid extra for the abortion coverage and the plan issuer segregated funds to assure that federal funds were not used to pay for abortion. This arrangement was unacceptable to abortion opponents, who saw it as an accounting gimmick.

Which, of course, it was. The Stupak amendment plugged that loophole:

The Stupak amendment extends to all health services funded under the Act the prohibition found in the current Hyde Amendment, which forbids Medicaid payments for abortion except in cases of pregnancies caused by rape or incest or where the pregnant woman’s life is endangered by physical disorder, illness, or injury. 

The abortion lobby will never allow a bill containing such a sweeping anti-abortion amendment to reach the President’s desk.

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