THE BLOG

Senators: Just Say No to the Abortion Amendment

Say what you will about the Republicans being obstructionists and the party of "No", they do have their convictions, and it would be inconceivable to me that they would ever support an amendment allowing gay marriage in the nation in order to pass some legislation which they considered to be vital. But the voices of 64 Democrats and the silence of the White House joined in passing an amendment that would prohibit insurance coverage for abortions. Pro-choice, the right of women to choose, was at the heart of the Democratic platform. I suspect that many women voted for Democratic candidates for that reason alone, but nonetheless the Democrats have acceded to this total ban on abortion coverage in the government health care plan.

I do not criticize those who voted for the amendment, either Republicans or Democrats, on the grounds that they oppose abortion. There is no right or wrong in this debate. Both parties are right and their respective views should be respected. I do fault those who voted for the amendment because they thought it was essential to pass health care reform or worse, that they feared to do otherwise might jeopardize their re-election.

There has to come a time when principle is more important than compromise or re-election. The Democrats have spent months watering down the health care bill in an effort to placate Republicans and gain their support. I am not naive. I understand that major legislation requires some compromise in order to succeed. But there should be some line over which elected representatives will not cross. As I said at the outset, the Republicans would not support a national law allowing gay marriage, and Democrats should not support a national law barring insurance coverage for abortions. This amendment goes as far as prohibiting persons who receive federal health subsidies from buying (on their own) insurance plans that include abortion coverage. If standing against this means the death knell of health care reform, than so be it. As important as health care reform is, this is too high a price to pay. Would we stand for a health care bill that excluded coverage for AIDS or for gays and lesbians merely because of the religious or moral beliefs of some segments of the population?

Democrats - put forth a bill in which you believe, and let the Republicans, if they must, filibuster until they are blue in the face, but preserve your principles and keep your promises in the process. And if the only way that you can be re-elected is to sacrifice those principles and renege on those promises, then you probably should not be running for public office in any event.