Gibson’s take on Stupak

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For a very different take from my own on this, see David Gibson’s piece
over on Politics Daily. David thinks that the pro-life folks did
compromise by not standing in the way of contraceptive coverage and sex
educution–which strikes me as de minimis. The key question,
though, is whether the idea of segregating the funds was just an
accounting fraud–as the Atlantic‘s Megan McArdle claims

The fact is, on a pooling basis–and that’s the level at which the
federal government operates–giving someone money to buy insurance that
covers abortions is exactly the same thing as directly paying for their
abortions. The original compromise, segregating the funds so that the
federal subsidy wouldn’t pay for the abortion part, was a transparently
ineffective gimmick.

Maybe I’m a dope, but I don’t see why that should be the case. Of
course money’s fungible. But what’s the difference between segregating
the funds as the compromise proposed or having the same insurance company deposit the
dollars it receives from its abortion-covering and
non-abortion-covering policies in the same bank account? A particular
dollar from a no-abortion policyholder could end up going to pay for an
abortion, if you choose to look at it that way. But the point is, once
all the dollars go into the account, it’s meaningless to ask whose they
were. The relevant question, under the compromise, is whether there would be
enough money in the segregated account–i.e. non-federal dollars–to
pay for the number of abortions provided. And that’s why God created

In re: Gibson, it’s perhaps worth noting that there are lot of liberal Catholics (viz. Michael Sean Winters) out
there who are, in fact, pro-life (let’s call them Common Good Catholics as opposed to Catholics for Choice). It’s just that, unlike their
conservative co-religionists, they have been prepared to support
non-pro-life health care reform for the sake of what they take to be
the greater good of (near) universal health coverage. But at the same
time, it’s very hard for them to oppose pro-life amendments once these
make it into legislation.

Let me once again opine that it would have been not only politically smart but
accurate for the House leadership to call the subsidies “health
care vouchers.” Voucherization has been the preferred conservative
approach to laundering tax dollars in order, for example, to dispose of
Establishment Clause problems. If a citizen’s objection to paying for
someone else’s religious school is solved by turning her tax dollars
into a school voucher, why isn’t a citizen’s objection to paying for
someone’s abortion solved by turning her  tax dollars into a health
care voucher? Especially since using tax dollars to pay for religious
schools directly is unconstitutional whereas using tax dollars to pay
for abortions is not.