A just compromise

President Obama signed an executive order on March 24 that would prevent federal funds from being used to pay for abortions under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, mirroring statutes that are already in the books.Say what? The candidate who championed a woman’s right to choose during his presidential campaign is limiting a woman’s access to abortion? No, it’s not as flip-floppy as it seems. The president made a deal with Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., and 12 anti-abortion House Democrats for their support of the health care bill. He promised to issue an executive order prohibiting any funds from the legislation from being used for abortion. An exception is made cases of rape, incest or where the life of the mother is in danger — though those three cases only accounted for 1 percent of abortions in 2000.The concession alienated and angered many in the president’s liberal base. The National Organization for Women swiftly condemned the president, saying that “his commitment to reproductive health care is shaky at best” and that the compromise was “unacceptable.”The executive order, which carries the force of law, prohibits women with government health insurance from receiving the constitutionally protected medical procedure. What makes the statute worse is that it is counterintuitive to the actual legislation it refers to. In a bill that promises to extend health coverage to as many as 30 million Americans, the provision actually would restrict health care.The White House could have easily balked at Stupak and his gang, but that would have allowed over a year of partisan bickering, inflammatory rhetoric and hard-fought negotiation to have been in vain. The bill passed in the House 219-212. Do the math. If the President hadn’t intervened, the bill would have failed. It was a costly concession that goes against one of the Democratic Party’s most cherished ideals: a woman’s right to choose. But at the end of the day, President Obama rolled up his sleeves and got the job done. He delivered on his top domestic priority, and a key part of his campaign — reforming the health care system in the United States.  The bill will expand health insurance to 30 million Americans. The Congressional Budget Office, a nonpartisan agency, estimates that it will reduce the deficit by $138 billion over the next 10 years, and $1.2 trillion in the following decade.Republicans are outraged at the legislation. It received zero Republican votes in the House. Liberal Democrats are furious over the restriction of a women’s right to choose. But this is the essence of a compromise — no is one ecstatic, but the 111th Congress did what it was convened to do — pass legislation for the betterment of America.