In Alberta, the Committee to End Tax-Funded Abortions is working to stop the Alberta government from forcing its taxpayers to pay for abortions. Meanwhile, in Ontario, Henry Morgentaler is trying to convince the provincial NDP government to give him more money due to an increase in demand at his Ottawa clinic.
This year alone, Canadian governments will pay out $30 million of taxpayers’ money for over 100,000 abortions. We have never properly debated the question of whether the state should force taxpayers to pay for abortions. We need to, especially as governments look for ways to cut spending.
In the U.S., the Clinton Health Care Plan raised this issue because it would have forced all American citizens regardless of their convictions, to fund each abortion, up to the moment of birth. This was one of the proposal’s most controversial elements. Michael Kinsley, the representative of the left on CNN’s “Crossfire,” wrote a column in the L.A. Times opposing this aspect of the plan. He argued the state should not compel pro-lifers to fund what they believe is the murder of innocent human beings.
The previous year, the Clinton administration tried to revoke the Hyde Amendment which bans the use of federal dollars to pay for abortion in the American Medicaid program. The heavily liberal Democratic Congress voted overwhelmingly to maintain the ban, although watering it down to allow the funding of abortion of pregnancies resulting from rape and incest.
Polls of Americans consistently show a large majority (68%), including many who identify themselves with the “pro-choice” position, does not want the state forcing them or other taxpayers to pay for abortions. In a 1991 plebiscite, 63% of Saskatchewan voters agreed. Significantly, in 1993, the German high court ruled that their socialized medical system could not fund abortion.
There seems to be no morally viable or intellectual coherent argument to defend forcing taxpayers to fund abortion. The arguments against such a policy., however, are overwhelming.
First, the phrase “government funding” is mythical. Civil government dies not fund anything because it has no money. It can only force taxpayers to fund activities. So “government funding” of abortion is actually the state forcing taxpayers to fund abortion.
Obviously, this means the state forcing those who believe abortion is the brutal destruction of innocent human life to fund this practice, regardless of their convictions and their will. Such a policy seems patently tyrannical. It is an indefensible and unjustifiable violation of conscience and of freedom.
Some might object that they have to support the military against their conscience. The military, however, is a “public good,” which is to say it cannot be provided to some without being supplied to all. This is not the case with abortion.
Second, Pierre Trudeau articulated the primary pro-abortion sentiment when he declared the government should get out of the nation’s bedrooms. Abortion advocates argue vigorously that the state should not be involved in any way in a woman’s decision, but forcing other people to pay for it completely denudes their position of any credibility. An abortion, like every financial transaction, is bi-directional: a product or service goes one way and payment for it goes in the other. It is intellectually incoherent and dishonest to argue that the state has no business whatsoever over the first half of the transaction but then has total involvement in the second half.
Third, it is absurd to cover abortion in a health insurance plan. The purpose of health insurance is to provide for the healing of sickness. Pregnancy is not a disease, a sickness, nor a state of ill-health and no one would claim it was. Consequently, an abortion, which terminates a pregnancy by killing the unborn child, does not increase or restore the mother’s health; nor odes it prevent sickness. In this sense, it is akin to cosmetic surgery. They are entirely voluntary procedures which do not restore a person from a state of sickness to a state of health. Forcing taxpayers to pay for other people’s health care is one thing; forcing us to pay for voluntary, discretionary, convenience surgery is quite another.
Fourth, except for cases of rape and incest, unwanted pregnancies do not just happen to people by accident. Unwanted pregnancies occur by people choosing to have sex when they are not ready for children. Even in the case of contraceptive failure, a decision is made to have sex with the awareness of a finite chance of pregnancy. Either way, unwanted pregnancies are the result of voluntary risk-taking.
It is absurd to suggest taxpayers ought to be forced to pay to get people out of situations in which they have arrived through their own lack of self-control, responsibility, and judgment. Currently, the state in effect forces taxpayers to subsidize nor only abortion, but also promiscuity and delinquency.
Fifth, the abortion movement organizes itself around the word “choice.” When arguing for legalized abortion, advocates argue “freedom of choice” and claim their opponents want to deny people “freedom of choice.” How can they then propose forcing people – against their will – to pay for these choices? The hypocrisy is disarming. They also argue no one should impose their morality on others. How can they then claim that forcing people to pay for what they believe is killing does not constitute them forcing their morality on other people? Once again, the inconsistency is glaring.
Supporters of tax-funded abortion often say that a right isn’t worth much if you can’t afford to exercise it. But as Kinsley points out in his article: “Freedom of speech doesn’t get you a megaphone. Freedom of religion doesn’t buy you transportation to church. These are rights against government interference, not rights to a government-financed supply” of the alleged right in question.
These arguments would seem self-evident to the majority of Canadians. But they are exactly the same reasons the federal government must pass a law preventing taxpayers from being forced to fund abortions in any form.