When the House recently passed a healthcare bill which included restrictions on the use of federal money to subsidize abortion, liberals were up in arms. “It restricts choice!” they cried. Let’s oppose it! Let’s vote down the entire bill even if that means more people in the country will remain uninsured.
Now the Catholic Church in Washington D.C. is being told that in order to receive government funds, they must abide by a new D.C. anti-discrimination law in all their charities and employment practices in those charities. The Church in Washington – part of a much larger, global organization – feels that it cannot submit to those rules and therefore will be forced to refuse said funds and close the doors on a number of the charities they currently run.
Liberals are once again up in arms. “What about the homeless?” they cry. “How dare they not change their fundamental religious beliefs when that means leaving more homeless and poor without charitable services!”
Something about this smacks of double standards.
And thus we come to a very fundamental aspect of government involvement in just about everything. The government limits choice. The trade-off can be worth it. It may mean less affordable abortions but more people covered. It may mean gay people are given the right to wed, but religious charities have fewer dollars to provide for the poor.
The point I’m making is that there is such thing as consensus, but it usually comes at a cost. It can’t simply be that everyone gets what they want, nor is it merely a question of ethics. Reasonable people disagree on issues like abortion. And we have a system of government that separates church and state, for better or worse. This leads to concessions and compromises and trade-offs and people are always unhappy at the end of the day.
If we want government health care, maybe we have to give up federally subsidized insurance plans that cover abortion. If we want gay marriage in D.C. and we also want religious charities to keep doing their good work, maybe we have to make exceptions for those institutions on religious grounds. Or we can refuse them funding and find ways to implement those charities via the state or some other private charity.
Either way, I see pro-choice advocates and the Catholic Church doing very similar things here. They’re both up in arms about the government making rules about how they spend the government’s money. But it’s the government’s money, or rather it’s our money. And that’s the way it rolls in a representative democracy. Deal with it.