Why Public Funding of Abortions is Untenable

By | February 8, 2011

by Mattias Caro

In polite company – usually at the dinner table – there are three topics that Miss Manners recommends you avoid to keep the peace:  death, taxes, and politics. Abortion and war are the only subjects that touch all three. Today, let’s politely decline Miss Manners and talk about the public funding of abortion.

The topic of abortion gets philosophical and metaphysical treatment in these parts, but rarely do we get down to a really nitty-gritty question of what to do. However, the issue of whether to publicly fund abortion through our tax dollars is suddenly pressing back upon us for two reasons. First, all states are facing severe financial burdens. States generally can’t borrow for annual (that is, discretionary) spending. So anything not related to schools – and votes of suburban moms –faces the axe. Second, a series of videos put out in the last week or so have called into question the federal and state money we are providing for abortion services.

Educate yourself. If you haven’t yet seen the great stuff being done by Lila Rose and her crew over at Live Action, check it out. It’s a great exposé on how some Planned Parenthood staffers have aided and abetted the procurement of abortion by minors without parental consent or judicial notice and, worse, covered up the sex trafficking of minors.

The basic argument for why we should fund abortion comes down to this simple idea:  Women have a constitutional right to get an abortion; abortions cost money; thus, when a woman wishes to exercise her right, society should be willing to help her even if she can’t pay for it.  It’s important to note that the Supreme Court has made clear that the Constitution does not compel the government to fund abortions and that federal and state governments may prohibit public moneys from going to abortion services, both domestically and abroad.

The funding of rights is an important point. As Americans, we have many rights both enshrined in the Constitution and as part of the fabric of our everyday life. Some rights require government action and thus funding. Defense is one of them. Our judiciary system is another. But many if not most rights require no government funding. Free speech, for example, is free. So it does not follow that, because we have a right, society must pay for its members to exercise it.

By and large, abortions are an elective procedure. Elective here means that the choice is free: a woman can have an abortion or she could not. Despite the difficult cases presented by the triumvirate of rape, incest, and life of the mother, it’s indisputable that the vast majority of abortions are elective. A woman could choose to carry her pregnancy to term and, indeed, deal with all the consequences that entails.

While pro-abortion advocates love to play up the importance of choice, rarely do you hear praise from them when the choice is to carry the pregnancy to term. Instead, you get condescending silence.

So what reason could there be to put public moneys at the service of a private choice? Indeed, the story sold is the plight of poor women who could never bring a child into this world under those conditions. Perhaps those are not the best conditions for the child or for the mother. But a hard-luck situation does not compel spending public money on such an intimate and personal choice, one that we are told is between a woman and her doctor … and Uncle Sam, if we fund it. Doesn’t that seem like a few too many people in the room?

Rationalizing is a hallmark of our consumerist society. We tend to accept the justification without stepping back to think if the conclusion truly flows from a premise. It’s easy to believe that money can solve the problem of a difficult pregnancy, and it’s easy to hand a person some cash or free services and believe it’s okay. But it’s hardly the hallmark of an enlightened and compassionate society to do so. And quite frankly, in a moment when we’re barely meeting our basic obligations, it seems funding the abortion industry is a luxury we simply cannot afford.

Don’t cry for me, Planned Parenthood. The truth is, you’re doing pretty well. Globally, you’re pulling in over a billion dollars annually; a third of that comes from the government and the rest from a donor base of over 700,000. If people care about the poor and abortions — especially noted population-control billionaires Ted Turner, Bill Gates, and George Soros — they can afford to keep Planned Parenthood and the abortion network kicking and screaming for decades to come.

But please, I’d rather not one more tax dollar fund abortion. But would any of our politicians truly wish to take that stand in public life? Or is it too controversial? See, if we are to restore any true sense of public life, it’s time that we seriously discuss these issues, that our politicians across the ideological spectrum take a common sense stand.

And the most basic point is this:  Abortion and those who provide abortion services don’t deserve a cent of our money. It makes little fiscal and moral sense, and it adds up to a funding of rights that is inconsistent with our American narrative of limited government.

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