Apparently the idea of tax money being used for things without universal support is a travesty to some people, instead of completely consistent with the idea of tax money being used at all. This idea wasn’t exciting enough to be a travesty until some Blue Dog Democrats thought it up in an effort to prove their moderate bona fides, because moderation means preventing poor women from getting abortions. The Stupak Amendment is what conservatives have always feared in a health insurance plan connected to the government: it puts the government between people and their doctors. Before Stupak, the government would help pay for health insurance for those a certain percentage above the poverty level, but got no say on specific medical procedures. Now, if moderates find a procedure morally questionable, they decide the government’s money cannot help pay for that (but of course people can always pay for separate plans that only cover abortion – riders – that don’t even exist). Even insurance plans subsidized by the government generally fit the insurance plan between you and your doctor formula instead of the government interference one. Here, the government isn’t even ashamed to interfere.
It’s understandable that House members like government interference; after all, it gives them more power. It’s even understandable that they compulsively lie about not liking it; that’s just the political culture. But to see them embrace the idea that allowing public money to indirectly support something controversial is a violation of “choice” is just ridiculous. The House is of course powerful because it controls the money, and if they stopped passing controversial legislation they would yield that power (and also shut down the government). Abortion is not uniquely controversial: opponents think it is a matter of life and death, but then, so is war. Some anti-war protesters have also argued that their tax money should not be going to support a cause they despise, but they haven’t gotten the support of like-minded members of Congress. If Congress required universal popular support before they spent public money, they would never do anything.
If the Blue Dogs were libertarians, it would be easier not to call them hypocrites. They could be principled people who just happen to idolize Thoreau, all deciding to become cogs in the machine of the government. They might actually believe that citizens have an obligation not to financially support things they disapprove of, and just want to make protesting citizens’ lives either. If popular support was a prerequisite for spending money in any other case, this might be believable. But since it’s just this one case, it seems like it would be more convenient for the people who really have a problem with government subsidized abortion coverage to go for civil disobedience. They could go to jail in protest (and hope generous pro-choice friends bail them out after a day or so, a la Thoreau) and everyone would be happy.
Instead we have the Stupak amendment in the House bill. (In the Senate bill, who knows what we’ll have after 20 more filibusters.) Women who need government subsidies to afford health insurance will find it harder to afford abortions. All because pro-lifers are the one constituency that doesn’t have to pay for what they don’t support.