Being anti-life in defense of pro-life

Nelson affirms the old saw about caring about the beginning and end of life -- but little in between

Thomas Schaller
December 18, 2009 10:49PM (UTC)

I'm sure you're familiar with the critique of  the so-called "pro-life" movement as a group of people interested in protecting life at conception and on the death bed but caring little for what happens during the long stretch of life in between. Well, this morning Matt Yglesias reminded us that Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson's resistance to the healthcare reform's abortion provisions epitomizes this hypocrisy.

Yglesias' words are best left unaltered:


Providing prenatal services to pregnant women is a pro-life gesture by any stretch of the imagination. As is providing health insurance to young children. As we saw the other day, uninsured children are over three times more likely to die from their trauma-related injuries than are commercially insured children, even after adjustment for other factors such as age, gender, race, injury severity and injury type.

But Nelson won’t let those lives be saved unless the bill is modified in an insulting and discriminatory way. And part of the insanity of it is that the actual impact on the number of abortions in America is going to be tiny. Middle-class women will be able to pay for abortions out of pocket, and the “Hyde Amendment” status quo already screws poor women. But it’s a nice symbolic dig at pro-choice America, and a further means of stigmatizing reproductive health services as somehow not real health care. And Nelson, Bart Stupack, and various bishops love the idea of holding the whole package hostage to this point, since I guess the dead kids with trauma injuries will go to heaven anyway or something.


Thomas Schaller

Thomas F. Schaller is professor of political science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the author of "Whistling Past Dixie: How Democrats Can Win Without the South." Follow him @schaller67.

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Ben Nelson, D-neb. Healthcare Reform War Room


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