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Tax $$ and the Right to Abortion: Pay Up, Even If You Oppose It

“No matter what your views are on abortion, you shouldn’t ask people to use their tax dollars if they think that abortion is taking a life,” Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H. claimed in reference to the current debate over covering abortion in the new health care bill.

What a strange concept, being voiced by a Senator (*cough hypocrite*) who supported the Iraq War and is pro-death penalty, both of which are, oh yeah, tax payer funded (to the tune of $86 billion for military spending in Iraq and Afghanistan, to name one 2003 vote). And I think it’d be hard to deny that war and capital punishment take lives.

Do I hate that my taxes fund killing? Yes. Do I wish the death penalty was illegal and that the U.S. didn’t go around invading other countries?  Yes. Do I support protesting these policies? Yes. Do I think civil disobedience in the form of not paying taxes is a legitimate tactic? Yes.

I strongly disagree with abortion rights opponents, but not with their right to engage in activism around their beliefs (when it doesn’t involve violent rhetoric and “taking the life” of people like Dr. George Tiller). On an individual level, that could mean acts of civil disobedience like refusing to pay taxes.

I support the taxation system as whole (despite flaws), so I consider it important to pay up and utilize other means toward social change. However, I understand the motivation for this form of protest, if anti-abortion rights activist chose to pursue it: I personally am disturbed by a sense of complicity in the war and criminal justice system because my (meager) taxes in part head that way, and civil disobedience has an honorable history around the world.

But this idea that abortion shouldn’t be funded because some–not even all–people think it’s taking a life, when we don’t say, “Whoops, can’t fund this war, even those there’s no controversy over the fact that we are indeed taking lives,” is not an argument any of our legislators should be listening to, much less voicing. I don’t agree with a lot of decisions elected representative make about my tax dollar; nonetheless, I accept it because that’s how our system works.

Not to mention, even if you see abortion as “taking a life” (which I don’t), many people still realize (as they ought) it’s a woman’s right, and it deserves to be an economically viable, insurance-covered, right. Due to this, I don’t like comparing funding abortion with funding capital punishment or the Iraq War, both of which I consider massive injustices that we have no right to engage in–but as I’m not arguing in this post why the right to an abortion is just, I’ve tried to restrict myself to examples that align with an anti-reproductive rights frame of mind.

Or–and perhaps more importantly–the frame of mind of pro-rights legislators who might be swayed by this argument and sacrifice women’s body in the health care bill. Democrats have an unfortunate tendency not to stand firm for abortion rights, treating it with kid gloves as a delicate issue people have strong feelings about. Buck up, Democrats! Abortion is a human right and a legal medical procedure in this country, and it deserves its place in federally funded health insurance. Sensitivity to other people’s beliefs does not require you to abandon your own.

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