Republicans Will Show Liberals What Government-Run Health Care Looks Like

Rep. Joe Pitts's bill to remove abortion from Obamacare plans has passed the House

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On Thursday night, the House of Representatives passed the Protect Life Act by a vote of 251 to 172, which would prohibit people from using federal subsidies to buy health care policies that cover abortion in the new state insurance exchanges set up by Obama's health care reform, The New York Times' Jennifer Steinhauer explains. The bill's pro-life supporters cited their moral objections to spending money on a procedure they think is wrong. Pro-choice opponents took to calling the bill "Let Women Die," a theme Nancy Pelosi echoed in a press conference opposing the bill because it meddles with a woman's access to health care: "When the Republicans vote for this bill today, they will be voting to say that women can die on the floor, and health care providers do not have to intervene... It's just appalling."

The Protect Life Act, which was sponsored by Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Joe Pitts, has no chance of passing the Senate. But it does remind us that House Republicans have a strange knack for issuing dire warnings of future problems that they also, simultaneously, are actively hastening. We've been warned before about the dangers of government getting in between you and your doctor. "Individuals currently have frighteningly little control over their own healthcare. Everyone from employers, to managed care officials, to government bureaucrats are making decisions about a person’s healthcare that would best be left to the individual," said Rep. Joe Pitts, Republican of Pennsylvania way back in 2008 before Obama was in office. More recently, he wrote an op-ed for USA Today in which he explained, "ObamaCare is creating 159 new federal offices and tens of thousands of pages of new regulations. Bureaucrats will make decisions that should be left to doctors and patients. The American people deserve better."

If you are inclined to agree with Pitts's earlier warnings, the objections of NARAL and others to the Protect Life Act could be read as proof for why the government shouldn't be involved in health care at all, as complicated issues over what is or isn't covered will always ultimately be settled through a flawed political system rather than medical expertise, inevitably leaving some to feel they've been treated unjustly. You might look at House Republicans's attempts to govern as simply a way to convert liberals to libertarians. The point of getting the government out of health care, the argument might go, is so that legislators never have to make such choices at all.

But Pitts doesn't feel that way when he's the government official making decisions: most Americans don't want to pay for abortions, Pitts explained this week, and so, as he told CBS News in January, he gets to make a choice: "Individuals still have choice, only it would have to be done with their dollars, not with taxpayer money."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.