Borrowing The Other Side's Talking Points

Will Saletan joins the abortion debate:

Pro-lifers say the health insurance abortion restriction, known as the Stupak amendment, is just an extension of the Medicaid abortion restriction, known as the Hyde amendment. Pro-choicers say the Stupak amendment is much more invasive. The pro-choicers are right. But pro-lifers didn't create that difference. Democrats did. By mixing public and private health care, they complicated the separation of taxation from abortion. If pro-lifers can't keep their money out of the insurance exchanges, they'll fight to keep the insurance exchanges out of abortion.

Granted, there are less onerous ways to interpret the no-taxes-for-abortion principle. Pelosi tried to sell these alternatives to the pro-life Democrats. They weren't buying.

There's something poignant about the last-minute outrage of the pro-choice groups. The complaints they're levelingthat people had more choices in the private market, that the House bill radically upsets this market, and that it violates Obama's promise not to deprive anyone of their existing coverageare hardly novel. Republicans have issued such warnings all year. But liberals didn't pay attention until the coverage in jeopardy was abortion.

I'm not saying we shouldn't socialize health insurance. I'm pretty comfortable with the House and Senate bills. But let's give up the two lies we tell ourselves about such legislation. One is that it won't cost us much money. The other is that it won't cost us much choice. When you throw in your lot with other people and agree to play by the same rules, you surrender some of your freedom and risk losing some of your options. Sometimes it's coverage of an MRI or a hip replacement. Sometimes it's coverage of abortion. If that's the price of health care reform, are you willing to pay it?

Friedersdorf makes the same point:

The bigger role the federal government takes in funding health care, the more you’re going to see politicians interfering in matters that would otherwise be left to doctors and patients, and the more controversial these battles are going to become among the public. This seems obvious to me, but I never see progressive writers worrying about it.