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Right to Life of Michigan's latest initiative won't save babies

AP photo

AP photo

Right to Life of Michigan is like the team you wish could win. Maybe this will be the year they get the right coach, get the right game plan, get the right quarterback. But when you see them take the field, you face-palm because you know right away it’s the same old Right to Life of Michigan.

To be fair, RTLM pretty much follows the national pro-life modus operandi, which gets about the same results.

The aim of the pro-life movement is to prevent babies from being killed by abortions. That is a good aim. The chosen method for achieving this is to elect pro-life candidates to as many political offices as possible, in the hope that this will result in pro-life laws. In the 40 years since Roe v. Wade, this has not worked very well. In spite of the big money Right to Life has contributed to pro-life candidates for everything from governor and U.S. senator to county drain commissioner and township treasurer, the law is pretty much what it was in 1973.

So a companion tactic is to pass voter initiatives that make abortions harder to obtain, or at least to restrict taxpayer funding of them. RTLM’s latest such effort, designed for the 2014 ballot if the Legislature doesn’t enact it first, would make it illegal for health insurance companies to cover abortion services as part of a basic insurance plan. They could still offer coverage of abortion, but policyholders would have to pay an additional rider.

The logic, I guess, is that basic insurance policies might now receive federal subsidies under Obamacare, so this way RTLM presumes to ensure that taxpayers do not pay for abortion.

So let me see if I have this straight: Health insurance could still pay for abortion, but because the policy holder would have to pay a special rider, premium-subsidizing taxpayers and other policy-holders would kinda sorta not really contribute anything to abortions, even though money is fungible.

But remember, the mission of Right to Life is to prevent babies from being killed by abortions. If this measure passes, would that be the result? I do not see how.

Abortion is simply not expensive enough for the cost to be a deterrent for a woman who is determined not to carry a child to term. You might say, well, by covering childbirth but not abortion, you create an incentive for women to carry the child to term. But do you really think it would work that way?

The fee for an abortion can run as low as $250, depending on when in the pregnancy you get it. Even if you could get every penny of prenatal and maternity care covered (and I wonder how many policies would have deductibles that run higher than $250), you still have to factor in the cost of caring for a child. The lesser cost for just about any woman would still be to have the abortion, even if she had to come up with the money herself, which all but the absolute poorest women could surely do if they were sufficiently motivated.

The bottom line is that RTLM’s initiative might make pro-life activists feel better about where the money for abortions comes from, but the likely number of children who would be saved by enactment of this measure is almost certainly zero.

Is this really the best use of Right to Life’s money? Or do they just feel the need to pursue some sort of victory, however Pyrrhic, just so they can say they got one?

Dan Calabrese
Dan Calabrese is editor-in-chief of HermanCain.com, the multimedia site owned by former presidential candidate Herman Cain. In addition, he is an accomplished business and trade journalist - and is the author of The Royal Oak Series of Spiritual Thrillers, a three-part series of novels set in Royal Oak, and available for purchase at www.dancalabresebooks.com. Dan lives in Grand Rapids.