Opinion

Abortion is about choice and responsibility

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One of the least productive public debates in American society today is the debate over abortion.

It isn’t that there aren’t extremely important and worthwhile issues to debate about the subject, but opinions have long ago hardened, and no one has any real interest in having a rational discussion. It is highly emotional, people talk past — rather than to — one another, and minds are very infrequently changed.

In eight years of writing in these pages, I don’t believe I have written a single column on the subject.

It isn’t because I don’t have an opinion on abortion — I am rather stridently pro-life. My opinion is not based in a religious philosophy, although admittedly I am Catholic. Rather, it is based in my belief in the need to protect the constitutional right of a separate human life to exist.

But despite my strong opinion on the subject, I rarely talk about it and haven’t written about it. My approach has been this way because, to be frank, it is basically pointless to argue any longer. The futility of such arguments has long since dissuaded me from engaging in them.

Yet today, I write a column on the subject, because Gov. Janet Mills is backing a bill that would require Medicaid to cover abortions, while also requiring that private insurers pay for abortions as well. That bill just won committee approval (on a straight party-line vote) in the Legislature Tuesday.

This is, of course, despite the ban through the Hyde Amendment on federal funds being used for abortion. To unshackle from those strings, Mills and her allies plan to use state — rather than federal — dollars for the payments.

The federal standard was always a reasonable compromise. If abortion is to be legal, taxpayers — millions of whom are deeply, deeply opposed on moral grounds — should not be forced to fund the destruction of life.

Put another way, you have the freedom to obtain an abortion, but the responsibility of paying for it, if you want to exercise that freedom, is yours.

The abortion lobby, though, is not happy with that kind of restriction, which is why Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and other pro-abortion groups have been trying to eliminate or go around the Hyde Amendment for four decades.

Their argument is that low-income women may experience financial hardship in trying to obtain an abortion, thus we need to pay for it for them through government funding. This is despite the number of programs and payment plans that groups like Planned Parenthood offer to allow low-income women to afford the procedure, which typically costs a few hundred dollars.

To many reasonable people, their position is irrational, agenda-driven and extreme.

We in the United States are afforded many freedoms, and those freedoms come with inherent responsibilities and costs.

Sexual activity comes with inherent risks, obviously. One of those risks is the possibility that a person will become pregnant. Outside of the horrific crimes in which choice is taken away from an individual, sexual activity is a choice. Engage in that activity, and you are knowingly taking the aforementioned risk.

If a person makes a choice to take the risk and it leads to an unwanted pregnancy, the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision has guaranteed legal access to abortion services. Setting aside my own opposition to that decision, it is currently the law of the land. If a person wants access to that procedure, they can obtain it.

It is not unreasonable to say that the person making that choice has the responsibility of affording it. Taxpayers should not be subsidizing such a controversial, highly emotional procedure that millions of Americans consider the wanton destruction of a human life, and a violation of the rights of unborn children.

But abortion activists don’t agree, and now they have an ally in the Blaine House, and enough allies in the legislature to pull it off. Shame on them if they do this.

Matthew Gagnon of Yarmouth is the chief executive officer of the Maine Heritage Policy Center, a free market policy think tank based in Portland. A Hampden native, he previously served as a senior strategist for the Republican Governors Association in Washington, D.C.

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