Why Is It All Or Nothing?!

Why Is It All Or Nothing?! March 18, 2010

A particular problem of conscience can arise in cases where a legislative vote would be decisive for the passage of a more restrictive law, aimed at limiting the number of authorized abortions, in place of a more permissive law already passed or ready to be voted on. Such cases are not infrequent. It is a fact that while in some parts of the world there continue to be campaigns to introduce laws favouring abortion, often supported by powerful international organizations, in other nations-particularly those which have already experienced the bitter fruits of such permissive legislation-there are growing signs of a rethinking in this matter. In a case like the one just mentioned, when it is not possible to overturn or completely abrogate a pro-abortion law, an elected official, whose absolute personal opposition to procured abortion was well known, could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and public morality. This does not in fact represent an illicit cooperation with an unjust law, but rather a legitimate and proper attempt to limit its evil aspects. (John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae 73).

This is the argument which was used to support the ban on partial birth abortion. Pro-life legislators supported the bill because they saw it was an incremental change for the better; even if the change is very slight and only prevented a cruel form of death for some infants, they thought they could support it. It wasn’t an all or nothing kind of deal. Even if pro-choice politicians also supported the bill, and for different reasons, it was seen as a pro-life victory, even though it also implied that the government had just given support to other forms of abortion (because they were not forbidden).

Indeed, imagine what it would have been like if people took the argument many leaders in the pro-life movement are now making against health care reform and put it instead to the partial birth abortion bill. “The government is saying that certain forms of abortion are good.” That’s right. “So many people who are pro-choice are for it.” That’s right. Why is the conclusion different for partial birth abortion than with health care reform? Why is it that an incremental change is allowed here, but it is all or nothing with health care reform?

Let us look to the facts.

The status quo: millions of people are without health insurance, and most people with health insurance are with companies which support abortion. People are dying with lack of health care, and most people are giving some sort of monetary support for abortion.

Health care reform: millions of people who do not have health care will get it, and those who have it can now choose an insurance plan and company which has no funding to abortion. Lives will be saved, and people will be removing funds from abortion.

The argument against the bill: abortion will still be funded. Yes, it would be. By insurance companies. Yes. And yet, that is also as it is right now. But the change: we will be able to make sure such companies get less funding than they get now. Yes, it is not the best case scenario where abortion is completely stopped. But again, does it have to be for one to support it? Pope John Paul II said it didn’t have to be all or nothing. Why do people argue it has to be now? Indeed, the same people — the same groups — which are criticizing this bill, despite its change of the status quo for something better — complimented such changes when they were offered before.

Ok. I get not wanting to pay for abortions, either directly or indirectly. This bill allows you to do that! You can say “no more.” Voila, you would have that option. Very few people have that option right now. Either people have health insurance with companies that pay for abortion, or they have no health care. Most of the people who are complaining about this reform already have health insurance and are already doing what they said they do not want to do — pay for insurance that pays for abortion. If they really meant it, why do they have health insurance now? And why are they upset when an option will be given to them not to have to pay that way in the future? Why are they demanding more for those who do not currently have insurance, who are, for the most part, the poor, while demanding less for those who can afford insurance now? The Catholic principle of the preferential option for the poor seems to be flipped upside-down with this. Now it is a preferential option for those who have the money to continue as is, while demanding more of those who do not have the funds.

Really, that’s very confusing to me. If you believe that no money should be given to insurance companies that support abortion, and you have health insurance, see whether or not your company (and not just your policy) has any connection to abortion. If it does, remove yourself from it. Put yourself in solidarity with those people who you are placing demands upon right now (demands which are greater than what would be if the status quo changes). Otherwise, I have serious doubts about your own belief about your own objection: are you saying you really support abortion after all?

And let is travel down the road into the future. If this objection is left to stand as it is, so it becomes an all or nothing deal, imagine how the arguments will be used to prevent any change in abortion policies in the future. Any incremental change will be read as being governmental support for abortion, because, after all, what is left over will be what one can say the government supports. Do you really think this is a good way to attack a bill? Ok. Well, it gets worse. Any bill can be shown to have some sort of connection with abortion similarly to the indirect way we see abortion is being treated here. Want immigration reform? Well, unless you put in the bill saying all immigrants are forbidden to have abortion, won’t that bill also be seen as bad? If you want tort reform, unless you put in the bill no lawyer can defend abortion doctors, aren’t you just helping abortion doctors make money? Do you support government aid to countries suffering from natural disasters, such as what happened in Haiti? Unless you demand no such money is given to doctors who perform abortion, aren’t you just helping to feed the abortion industry? One can go on and on like this. Yes, these connections are a stretch — but that is the point. This is exactly the point. Do you get it yet?

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