David Rivkin and Lee Casey consider this question in today’s Journal, explaining that the Supreme Court’s abortion jurisprudence limits the government’s power to unduly burden choices about healthcare:
It is, of course, difficult to imagine choices more “central to personal dignity and autonomy” than measures to be taken for the prevention and treatment of disease — measures that may be essential to preserve or extend life itself. Indeed, when the overwhelming moral issues that surround the abortion question are stripped away, what is left is a medical procedure determined to be “necessary” by an expectant mother and her physician.
If the government cannot proscribe — or even “unduly burden,” to use another of the Supreme Court’s analytical frameworks — access to abortion, how can it proscribe access to other medical procedures, including transplants, corrective or restorative surgeries, chemotherapy treatments, or a myriad of other health services that individuals may need or desire?
If only the right to privacy had so much influence in government decisionmaking!
I don’t even know where to start with Rivkin and Casey’s argument, except to say that privacy is not going to stop government-supported (or even government-dominated) healthcare. But it is fun to see the conservatives get all libertarian on you once they’re out of power. We’ll be hearing “privacy this” and “my rights that” a lot. Where were those rights during the warrantless wiretapping and FISA debates, by the way?