The Greater Implications of the Stupak Amendment

The end of the barbaric practice of abortion seems unimaginable under the present-Obama Administration. Yet there is, however, reason to hope that one of the greatest blows to the abortion industry and pro-choice movement in recent decades might come to pass during the current Democratic presidency and majority Congress.

For months President Obama and Democratic congressional leadership have advocated for reform of the American health care system. The Senate and the House of Representatives both have seen the production and circulation of an assortment of health care bills. As should be expected, the issue of abortion, particularly by way of government funding and legal mandates requiring Americans to subsidize private insurance plans that offer such coverage, has been a tremendous point of controversy. The various forms of legislation circulating in both chambers of Congress for some time contained provisions that would enable the government to directly and indirectly orchestrate a scheme of funding abortion.

The final legislation of the U.S. House, the Affordable Health Care for America Act (H.R. 3962) was amended to include the Stupak-Pitts amendment which in effect would prohibit a national public insurance plan from covering elective abortion and further restricts government subsidies from being used to purchase private insurance plans that cover elective abortion.

The pro-life measure has been met with severe hostility. From the nation's capital to the internet, pro-choice activists are livid. Recently, over forty pro-choice Democrats have written a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi promising to oppose the final legislation if the Stupak-Pitts language is not removed. The President of Planned Parenthood states that her organization “on behalf of the millions of women” that it serves is absolutely opposed to the passage of H.R. 3962 as long as the pro-life clause remains where as the organization previously was a chief advocate of the legislation.

Certainly from a pro-life perspective, the moral point of the pro-choice movement on the issue is morally bankrupt. However their concerns are based on recent, objective analyses of the greater implications of the Stupak-Pitts amendment–that is, it might have a significant effect on the abortion rate. Perhaps both sides of the political aisle have been so caught up in winning the battle against government-funded abortions or stopping the Democratic health care proposals altogether, very few have examined what the Stupak-Pitt amendment's language in effect would do. Far from simply preserving current policy, the amendment might actually indirectly accomplish the goal of restricting access to abortion.

Pro-choice advocates posit that anyone whose health insurance is contingent on, or subsidized by, the government will not have abortion coverage. The Stupak-Pitts amendment would affect the insurance plans for millions of Americans that participate in the created individual and business market insurance exchange–both the currently insured and those to be insured. If the government subsidizes Americans who qualify for assistance to purchase private insurance that excludes abortion coverage and the national public insurance precludes abortion, the Stupak-Pitts amendment just might create an environment where insurance companies offer two nearly identical comprehensive plans, one with abortion and one without. Effectively there will be incentives for insurance companies deemphasize or remove abortion coverage from its available options for the greater gain of profits.

Support or opposition of H.R. 3962 aside, if the legislation does pass in some familiar form with the Stupak-Pitts amendment intact, there just might be an unforeseen domino effect that effectively might limit, or cut off, abortion services for the majority of Americans. The most obvious example is the socio-economically disadvantaged. This segment of the population is inevitably the target of the abortion industry. Yet presumably such a demographic would require government assistance in some fashion and under the Stupak-Pitts amendment, the working poor would be directed to insurance options that exclude abortion coverage away from the exploitation of the abortion industry.

If health care reform with pro-life measures included is approved by Congress, undoubtedly there will remain qualms across the political spectrum about various aspects of the legislation. But there indeed might be a hidden and unexpected grace in the Stupak-Pitts amendment which goes far beyond what its creators and supporters may have even realized. Abortion rates perhaps by necessity would plummet.

This, of course, would not destroy the Culture of Death, overturn Roe v. Wade, or make the practice of abortion illegal. It would undermine, if not altogether remove, the choice of abortion for millions of women who find themselves tempted by the false dichotomy of having to choose between themselves and their unborn child. Undoubtedly this would be a victory for the pro-life movement even in the face of other losses.

Whatever the fate of the health care reform efforts, pro-life Americans everywhere should unequivocally support the Stupak-Pitts amendment for it may mean victory even when other losses are considered far-reaching and drastic.