By Carl Anderson
NEW HAVEN, Connecticut, 15 MARCH 2010 (ZENIT)
debate has raged in the United States over the proposed health
care overhaul. Several contentious issues have emerged including
the proposal's cost, the level of government control it would
create, and most notably, coverage of abortion.
The leadership of both the House of Representatives and the
Senate have seemed determined in recent months to make coverage
of the taking of a life in abortion the sine qua non for health
A core group of pro-life Democrats, led by Representative Bart
Stupak of Michigan
a member of the Knights of Columbus
has stood on principle and joined with the Republican minority
in opposing the bill for its inclusion of abortion, and that
coalition may well prove able to stop the abortion-laden health
But why have Congressional leaders been willing to risk the
entire legislation for the sake of abortion?
Many have seen this focus on covering abortion as interest group
politics at its worst: Politicians playing to a small base in
the face of massive majority opposition to abortion and health
care funding of abortion by the American people. That may be
But speaking to National Review Online last week, Representative
Stupak revealed another, even more alarming reason: There is a
belief among some in favor of the health bill that aborting
children now will save money in terms of long-term health costs
What he's hearing from some party members, Stupak told National
Review Online is that "if you pass the Stupak Amendment, more
children will be born, and therefore it will cost us millions
"That's one of the arguments I've been hearing," He added.
"Money is their hang-up. Is this how we now value life in
America? If money is the issue
come on, we can find room in the budget. This is life we're
Abortion is no longer being spoken of just in terms of rights;
it's now become for some of America's leaders a matter of cost.
A child aborted today, won't need surgery or long term care
Calculating the cost
Pope John Paul II warned us that such calculations were what
created a "culture of death." He wrote in "Evangelium Vitae":
"This culture [of death] is actively fostered by powerful
cultural, economic and political currents which encourage an
idea of society excessively concerned with efficiency. Looking
at the situation from this point of view, it is possible to
speak in a certain sense of a war of the powerful against the
weak: a life which would require greater acceptance, love and
care is considered useless, or held to be an intolerable burden,
and is therefore rejected in one way or another. A person who,
because of illness, handicap or, more simply, just by existing,
compromises the well-being or life-style of those who are more
favored tends to be looked upon as an enemy to be resisted or
eliminated. In this way a kind of 'conspiracy against life' is
unleashed" (No. 12).
To create such a culture of death is bad enough, but to do so
with the goal of economic growth is equally illusory.
Not only does such utilitarian thinking unleash a "conspiracy
against life," as John Paul II put it, but it actually hinders
development. In his recent encyclical "Caritas in Veritate,"
Benedict XVI warned that "openness to life is at the center of
true development. When a society moves toward the denial or
suppression of life, it ends up no longer finding the necessary
motivation and energy to strive for man's true good" (No. 28).
Ironically, those who would dispose of the weak today to save
money on health care tomorrow would actually create a society in
which true economic growth is unsustainable
a system both morally and monetarily bankrupt.
The proof that abortion and a mindset that precludes life are
not only bad moral policy, but bad fiscal policy as well is all
around us. As we face a severe recession, it's clear that
declining birth rates have not created sustained
In fact, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, the president of the Vatican's
Institute for Works of Religion has made a strong case that "the
true cause of the [economic] crisis is the decline in the birth
rate." As reported by ZENIT, he observed that risky investments
and monetary policy have sought to compensate for flat growth
due to declining population: "With the decline in births there
are fewer young people that productively enter the working
world. And there are many more elderly people that leave the
system of production and become a cost for the collective."
Far from being a fiscal solution, abortion
along with the entire contraceptive mentality
has proven to be a Faustian bargain. Human life today is traded
for a better future tomorrow, a future made even more tenuous by
the loss of those lives necessary to sustain society's future
And other cautionary tales of the unintended consequences sown
by such policies are becoming increasingly obvious. The March 4
issue of the Economist features a cover story on "gendercide,"
the increasing trend of societies with too few women
as girls are selectively aborted. China is the largest case, but
countries from Armenia to Belarus to Serbia to Singapore have
increasing gender-skewed birthrates.
So does in India. In advertisements there, chillingly
reminiscent of the health care debate in the United States, the
Economist article points out that doctors have advertised
ultrasounds to determine a child's sex as follows: "'Pay 5,000
rupees ($110) today and save 50,000 rupees ($1,100) tomorrow'
(the saving was on the cost of a daughter's dowry)."
The article points out that parents who shied away from
infanticide of baby girls, embraced aborting them by the
millions. Making sex-selecting abortion illegal has not worked
either. Society after society has bought into the idea of taking
a life today for some perceived benefit tomorrow.
With such dire consequences worldwide, the leadership in
Congress should take notice.
A health care system, willing to sacrifice tomorrow's children
for today's financial gain, a system more concerned about costs
than people can hardly be called health "care."
Americans, born and unborn, deserve better than to be seen in
terms of their cost. The American people deserve a health care
system that truly supports health, that upholds the dignity of
a system that leads to the protection
rather than the depletion of
America's most important resource, its people. That is the
fundamental reason why so many Americans supported the idea of
health care reform in the first place. As Washington draws
closer to enacting a new law, it should keep faith with that
Any proposal that offers less isn't worth the cost in terms of
and promises a tomorrow more troubled than today.
* * *
Carl Anderson is the supreme knight of the Knights of
Columbus and a New York Times bestselling author.