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Pro-Life fight misguided

I believe I understood the arguments Margaret F. Keady '93 and Juan A. Latasa '91, representing MIT Pro-Life, put forth in their case for abortion coverage rebates ["Pro-Life requests partial insurance refund," Oct. 5]. Nevertheless, I found I disagreed with literally every reason.

They began with the pragmatic, namely that insurance refunds are logistically possible, as evidenced by their implied success at Harvard. Presumably this was mentioned to stay the objections of Linda L. Rounds, executive director of the Medical Department, as I fail to see any particular relevance to the real issue at hand; regardless, I am personally against the rebate, and I consider Harvard's policy an instance of poor judgment down the river rather than a valid precedent for abortion coverage refunds at MIT.

The central issue, as I see it, is that MIT Pro-Life feels an "ethical dilemma" is created by forcing people who oppose abortion to subsidize abortion, or, as far as they are concerned, murder. I am reminded of a man who refused to pay the fraction of his federal taxes slated to go to the defense budget on the grounds the military is a killing machine he found morally repugnant. Does MIT Pro-Life share this thinking? Perhaps some of its members do. And do these also avoid transportation vehicles, which are implicated in countless deaths, and do they demonstrate their objections by not paying that portion of their taxes allocated to road repair? Or do they refuse to contribute their share toward the government subsidization of red meat, etiological agent of atherosclerosis, heart disease, and death?

These increasingly ludicrous examples at some level point to life-and-death issues, as does that of the abortion coverage rebate. Many will cringe at lumping them all together, but to me the logic is basically the same in each case, and the contrasts illustrate that different people will find ethical dilemmas in different places.

MIT Pro-Life thinks the mass of its members and other supporters merits its opinions special consideration. Admittedly many people are concerned about the abortion coverage rebate issue, probably more than for any other comparable issue at the Medical Department. But is it justifiable to grant the anti-abortion group sole exception, based on its numbers, while giving other smaller groups -- whose complaints might be just as legitimate to them -- no satisfaction whatsoever?

Of course everyone with an ethical dilemma could conceivably receive his or her respective rebate -- a nightmarish scenario indeed for Rounds. I view MIT health insurance as a form of socialized medicine, or, to elevate it to a higher ideal, a Rousseauian social contract. I find this philosophy compelling, and I would hate to see its application destroyed or compromised by concessions of the sort sought by MIT Pro-Life. Furthermore, in the context of this philosophy there is no hypocrisy in paying insurance for items or services an individual does not morally or otherwise support.

So where does this leave MIT Pro-Life? I do not know how it would be received, but I think it would be reasonable for members to ask Rounds that their specific insurance dollars not go toward abortions. And it goes without saying that they should continue their lobbying for legislation against abortions, and perhaps even for an MIT health insurance policy that does not cover abortion at allMedical Department policy against the performance of abortions in Building E23. Personally, however, I hope such efforts are not successful.

For those who still feel victims of "a flagrant infringement of a person's First Amendment right," I point out that although MIT requires its members to have medical insurance, it need not be at MIT. Since members of MIT Pro-Life are free to seek external medical insurance, it is my layman's opinion that they do not have the case they suggested they did, and I admonish them not to pursue legal action.


Daniel A. Sidney, a graduate student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and the Division of Health Sciences and Technology, is managing editor of The Tech.

I am reminded of a man who refused to pay the fraction of his federal taxes slated to go to the defense budget on the grounds the military is a killing machine he found morally repugnant.