Friday, September 12, 2008

Stop Subsidizing Abortions

From the 15 September 2008 Greater Niagara Newspapers

By Bob Confer

The right to life will always be one of the most contentious issues in American politics. It’s pretty much guaranteed that we will never come to a consensus on abortion, because for all the folks who, like me, are strongly against it there seem to be just as many people who support it.

Having said that, as long as there exists a Right-Left balance in most legislative houses and executive branches, we will always see the policy battles that occur on the floors of our national and state capitols, battles in which the pro-lifers long to block abortions and the pro-abortion crowd looks to improve access to embryocide. The discussions over abortion bills always turn to lengthy impasses, both sides debating the issue for hours at length, never coming to an agreement and repeating the discussion in the following legislative year. Because of those extreme philosophical divisions in the political world (and community), it’s quite rare that legislation from either side gets passed anymore. That’s why a bill like New York’s liberal Reproductive Health Act has been debated the past two years and will be again in 2009. It’s a never-ending cycle of redundancy.

These stalemates are also a reason why those who are against abortion must focus on reasonably-achievable goals and not pipedreams like overturning Roe v. Wade. We’re wasting our energy if we think we can take on the Supreme Court and win. Nothing even remotely close to a positive development has been achieved in the 35 years of activism since that infamous case.

The most critical and realistic inroads can be gained with a reformation of public spending.

Most people are unaware that considerable taxpayer funds are dedicated to abortions or that our home state is one of the guiltiest of this. New York is one of only 17 states in which abortions of convenience are funded by taxes. In any given year nearly 45 percent of all abortions in New York are paid for with state Medicaid dollars, the very same Medicaid that eats up more than half our County property tax bills. The final numbers for our “investments” are quite appalling: New York is the abortion capital of the world, with 1 in 10 US abortions occurring here, something to the tune of 165,000 per year. We’re helping to pay for almost 75,000 of them.

The amount of subsidization is just as bad at the federal level. Uncle Sam gives $335 million per year to abortion clinic/consultant Planned Parenthood. Admittedly, some of those dollars go towards education and counseling. But, most of those dollars (once again, our hard-earned money) are dedicated to abortions. Planned Parenthood performed nearly 290,000 of them in 2006.

In essence, the average New Yorker contributes to the extermination of 365,000 lives annually.

This doesn’t need to happen. Making change at the State level is the easiest of the battles. 33 states don’t fund abortions of convenience, choosing instead to fund only the abortions they feel are necessitated by rape, incest, or overwhelming medical emergency. New York can become one of them, by right-minded legislators introducing legislation which mirrors that of the other states.

The federal government has already taken steps to stop funding Medicaid-related abortions. Thanks to the Hyde Amendment of 1976, the federal government will not provide funding for abortions which do not meet the rape and incest provision. But, in the case of New York and similar states, Hyde ends up being a wash because the state uses its own Medicaid coffers. Regardless, the Hyde Amendment does set a precedent for the parameters of the public funding of abortions and a very good lawyer could make a legitimate claim that New York is operating outside the boundaries of the law.

Due to the nebulousness of Planned Parenthood, stopping the federal funding of it is a slightly more difficult yet still attainable goal. Leveraging the legal precedence of the Hyde Amendment along with public sentiment, the flow of monies could be shut right off. Such an effort does have its champions, too. In July, Congresswomen Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota offered a very compelling argument in Washington decrying the practice, an argument she plans to bring up in earnest in 2009 with many politicians planning to jump on that bandwagon.

This fight makes philosophical, fiscal, and legal sense. Longtime readers of this column know there are a lot of things I don’t want my tax dollars doing. Killing innocents before they can ever appreciate the world outside the womb has to rank right at the top of that list. Millions of people would probably feel the same way if they were aware that the government really does subsidize abortions.

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