Who Pays for Abortion?

As the Capitol and the White House play tug of war over health coverage, there's one dirty piece of linen everyone is trying to hide: the question of mandatory coverage for abortion. Last week, however, the nation's Roman Catholic bishops began to air that dirty linen in public. In a letter to congressional leaders, the bishops warned that they are mobilizing millions of church members to stand against any health insurance plan that includes abortion in the standard benefits package. This is not the first time prolife activists have tried to get politicians to talk openly about the status of abortion in national health insurance. But so far, the politicians have paid scant attention. Proof is that all five of the proposals passed so far by congressional committees include requirements for abortion coverage—with only one plan allowing some limited exceptions. You and I must understand what this means: If Congress passes a uniform national benefits package, then every single American will be required by law to buy the same insurance coverage. And if that coverage includes abortion, then even if you never get an abortion yourself, your premium payment will go into the common pool that is used to pay for other people's abortions. There will be nothing you can do about it. Nothing, that is, apart from civil disobedience. The only option left for people opposed to abortion will be to refuse to pay a portion of their insurance premium. If we are forced to take that course, however, we must be prepared to pay the consequences. That's a lesson we learned 20 years ago from those who resisted the Vietnam War. Sincere protesters went to prison rather than violate their conscience. Today Christians may be faced with the same painful dilemma. If Congress does pass a health-insurance act requiring all citizens to pay for abortion, we may have to practice the time-honored protest of civil disobedience. And if we do, we must also be prepared to pay a high price for our beliefs. The health premium will be like a tax: Those who refuse to pay will be subject to prosecution and even prison. As Christians, we're commanded to obey the governing authorities out of reverence for God—who is the ultimate authority in our lives. But what should we do when the government commands us to do something contrary to God's law? The answer is in Acts 4—in that case, we must obey God rather than any human authority. There's only one way to avoid this excruciatingly difficult choice—and that's to act now. We need to contact our representatives in Congress and let them know, clearly and forcefully, that we oppose any national health- insurance plan that includes mandatory abortion coverage. The Catholic leaders who have taken a bold public stand on the issue of abortion coverage deserve our praise. They also deserve our support. Those of us who are evangelicals belong on the front lines with them in this crucial battle. Let's work together to keep abortion funding from becoming the law of the land.


Chuck Colson



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