Conservative Christians Could Win in Resisting Health-Care Reform
By Jacqueline L. Salmon
Congress heads into its August recess at the end of the week, and members will face battles over health-care reform as they return home to face their constituents. It's clear that whether the current reform package would allow for the public funding of abortions will dominate the debate. Whether or not it actually will allow for public funding of abortions is complicated. But the facts won't matter, of course, in the upcoming battle to sway public opinion in Congressional representatives' home districts.
Conservative Christian groups that oppose health-care reform plan to campaign on the contention that the health-care reform package "mandates" abortion coverage , could shut down Catholic hospitals and stop abortion opponents from entering the medical field. More liberal (they prefer the term "progressive") faith groups that support health-care reform plan to campaign against what they call this "disinformation," and they contend that the legislation does not provide any provision for taxpayer-funded abortions, which they also oppose.
Recent polling yields some interesting results: Americans are conflicted about abortion, but some seem to be moving more toward an anti-abortion outlook. So I suspect that with public opinion trending against abortion, the conservative Christians might have a sympathetic ear.
First, extreme views on abortion are about even: Twenty-three percent of Americans say the procedure should be illegal under all circumstances, while 22 percent say it should be legal under any circumstances, reports Gallup. Those Americans are unlikely to change their opinions and unlikely to be influenced by the reams of advertising that have already hit them.
The battleground is in the middle. Fifty-three percenet favor abortion, but only under certain circumstances, reports Gallup. Pollsters say these numbers, and others, suggest that many people are personally opposed to abortion but do not necessarily want to make the procedure illegal for everyone else.
In recent months, polls suggest the population is swaying a bit more toward an anti-abortion outlook. A Gallup poll in May found that 51 percent of Americans call themselves "pro-life" on the issue of abortion -- the first time a majority of U.S. adults have identified as pro-life since Gallup began asking the question in 1995. In addition, the percentage of Americans who think it should be outlawed in all circumstances has jumped in recent years, while the proportion who favor abortion under all circumstances has sunk.
While I can't find any polling on the 1976 Hyde Amendment, which outlaws public funding of abortion except under certain circumstances, a 2008 Gallup poll found that close to one-third of Americans favor more strict abortion laws, while a plurality of Americans--42 percent--want them to remain the same. Only 21 percent want them to be less strict. This may be stretching it, but that could mean that only one in five Americans opposes the Hyde Amendment. That doesn't bode well for health-care reform if the battle centers on public funding of abortion.
Jacqueline L. Salmon
August 4, 2009; 10:40 AM ET
God in Government
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