In 35 U.S. states, destitute women have no abortion rights. Or at least, none that they have the power to exercise. This is because the Hyde Amendment bars the use of federal dollars for abortion services. And so, throughout most of America, Medicaid will not cover the cost of the procedure.
Hillary Clinton hopes to change that. Early in the Democratic primary, she declared her support for repealing Hyde — a bold stance in a country where both abortion and federally funded health-care benefits for the poor remain controversial. But Clinton’s running mate, Virginia senator Tim Kaine, has been a career-long supporter of Hyde.
Kaine has moved dramatically left on abortion rights in the years since he campaigned for the governor’s house on a pledge to ban “partial-birth abortions.” In the Senate, he has maintained a 100 percent rating from Planned Parenthood. But he is also a practicing Catholic who has a “personal” opposition to abortion.
That doesn’t necessarily make Kaine a useless ally for supporters of reproductive choice. The coalition for legal abortion would be larger if more personally “pro-life” Americans adopted Kaine’s assessment that outlawing the procedure does more harm than good. The trouble is that Kaine also seems to subscribe to the belief that funding abortion with federal tax dollars violates the religious liberty of pro-life Catholics.
Earlier this week, it seemed that Kaine had recognized the flaws in this position: In a pluralistic democracy, we all have to fund things we’re morally opposed to (like incinerating Yemeni wedding parties, for example). And if one supports sending fungible foreign aid to countries with legal abortion, as Kaine does, then it’s hard to understand why allowing Medicaid to fund all legal medical services is a problem.