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Abortion Might Undo Health Care Reform

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Of all the things that threaten to derail the health care debate raging in Congress, abortion might be the one to do it. The government-sponsored plan that's currently on the table would cover abortions, a detail that outrages abortion opponents.

Abortion Might Undo Health Care Reform

Ronda Kaysen: No federal funds would be used to cover abortion -- the money would come out of funds from premiums -- but nevertheless, women would be able to get an abortion under the government plan, and critics of abortion insist that this is a deal breaker.

"We want to see people who have no health insurance get it, but this is a sticking point," Richard Doerflinger, associate director of pro-life activities for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, told The Associated Press. "We don't want health care reform to be the vehicle for mandating abortion." The church can't accept a public plan that covers abortion, he said.

As it stands now, federal funds can only be used for abortion in cases of rape, incest, and danger to the life of the mother. But if the federal government is going to put its muscle behind a universal coverage plan, it has to consider the fact that most private plans provide abortion coverage for women. If the government were to restrict coverage, a woman who has coverage for abortion now under her private plan may find herself suddenly without access to coverage if her employer switches to a government-sponsored plan.

Abortion opponents "want an abortion ban in private insurance, and that's not neutrality at all -- that's a radical departure from current law," Donna Crane, policy director for NARAL Pro-Choice America, told the AP. "They want something far more extreme than where I think the American public is."

The Obama administration has been dancing around the issue for weeks now, but last month, Peter R. Orszag, the White House budget director, refused to rule out the possibility of federal funds covering abortion when he was asked about it on "FOX News Sunday."

"I am not prepared to say explicitly that right now," he answered, when asked if no federal tax money would go toward abortions. "It's obviously a controversial issue, and it's one of the questions that is playing out in this debate."

Abortion opponents worry that unless the bill explicitly restricts abortion, it will give people unfettered access to the procedure. The House hammered out a compromise where no federal funds would be used to cover the procedure, only funds from beneficiary premiums. And any private plans that choose to cover abortion would not be able to use federal funds to pay for it. But that compromise is cold comfort for pro-life groups.

"It's a sham," Douglas Johnson, legislative director for National Right to Life, told the AP. "It's a bookkeeping scheme. The plan pays for abortion, and the government subsidizes the plan."

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12 comments so far | Post a comment now
May August 7, 2009, 6:32 PM

I am pro-choice but I believe everyone is entitled to their own opinion on this matter. I am currently pregnant, it was not planned and my insurance covers abortion but I’m choosing to have my baby. Just because something is available doesn’t mean that people are going to forget about protecting themselves because now abortions are “free”. BTW there is a little thing called separation of church and state, Mr. Doerflinger so the church doesn’t get to choose what the goverment does.

Beth August 7, 2009, 7:01 PM

What I really, truly appreciate is that the two anti-choice individuals are both male. It just warms my heart that they’re so concerned about a woman’s health issue.

Oh, wait. They’re not. The woman’s health is the LAST thing they care about. I think it is incredibly paternalistic to assume that if abortion is an available option women will always take it. The whole point about choice is to make things SAFE and not force women into back alleys with coat hangers. Abortions will happen regardless, it’s really just a matter of whether we’re going to protect women or not in the process.

calimommy August 7, 2009, 7:07 PM

I am a mother who’s first concern is protecting the unborn child ~ not a mother’s “right” to safely kill her child for convenience sake. I will not support my tax dollars going toward something I have an informed and passionate position on.

marym August 7, 2009, 7:26 PM

Obama has NEVER produced a birth certificate, is NOT legally president but he’s going to force socialize abortion on our babies? NO BIRTH CERTIFICATE = NOT PRESIDENT! We need one of our OWN KIND in the white house! Republicans, stand up for the Republic!

Amy August 7, 2009, 8:12 PM

I second those last points about the separation of church and state, and the outrage of old men deciding what health care rights women can and can’t have… It’s ridiculous, and totally terrifying to me, how these so-called experts and officials are willing to so blatantly and irresponsibly spread lies! NOBODY’S TAX DOLLARS WILL FUND ABORTIONS! The public option plan would simply make the same health care coverage that’s available now, funded by premiums, just like now, affordable to lower- and middle-income women and their families. Once again, conservatives seem to be using the abortion issue to distract, excite and mislead the public, hoping to rile people enough so they won’t see the real issues or facts of this legislation. It’s sad.

Sierra Black August 7, 2009, 8:45 PM

This is appalling. As the article said, most current health insurance programs cover abortions. Including that coverage in a public plan would make it competitive with private coverage, which it needs to be to work, and would only change the availability of abortion for poor uninsured people. Are the pro-life groups really saying that middle-class woman should have reproductive choices that include abortion, but lower-income women should not?

calimommy August 7, 2009, 9:19 PM

@Amy~ Those who cannot pay for health care will be covered under a federally funded program which would pay premiums. Who do you think funds federally funded programs? Tax payers. And as a tax payer I do not want my tax dollars funding abortions!
@Sierra~ Planned Parenthood has been helping women abort their babies for decades.

FreedomLover August 7, 2009, 11:04 PM

Hey, I’m for whatever it takes to derail this stupid “healthcare plan”.

We need to fix insurance in this country, but having the govt run it is just stupid.

Get a reasonable plan and actually *read* the stupid thing and then we can talk.

RachelAZ August 8, 2009, 1:45 AM

Oh for god sakes MaryM look his birth certificate up on Snopes and quit your scare tactics and stupid rumor spreading. I can’t believe there are people as ignorant as you out there…it blows my mind everytime! As for the abortion debate, sorry but nobody has the right to tell someone they canNOT get a procedure done. Just because YOU don’t agree with it or wouldn’t do it doesn’t mean that everyone else agrees with you and your OPINION.

Jaelithe August 8, 2009, 1:33 PM

Passing health care reform that extends more coverage to women who currently do not have it will PREVENT abortions, not cause more of them.

About 20% of women who have abortions cite not being able to afford a baby as their primary motivation. Health care is a HUGE component of the cost of pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting a newborn. How many women would choose NOT to have an abortion if they knew they could get affordable prenatal care, affordable hospital delivery, and affordable doctor’s visits and vaccines for a baby?

And how many women would never become pregnant accidentally in the first place if they had reliable access to an OB-GYN who could give them advice on how to prevent pregnancy and make sure they had access to the Pill, an IUD, or condoms?

A great way to reduce the number of abortions would be to make sure every woman and every infant in the country had good access to health care.

Also, as stated in the article, under current law, the public plan would only be ABLE to fund abortions in the case of rape, incest, or a threat to the life of health of a mother. Most Americans, even many of those who oppose abortion under other circumstances, support a woman’s (or girl’s) right to terminate a pregnancy in those terrible situations.

April August 10, 2009, 6:04 PM

Separation of Church and State?

What about that little old thing we call the Declaration of Independance?

“We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”


SesshoumarusGirl August 12, 2009, 10:32 PM

I’m pro-choice but frankly, I’m sick of abortion being used as the “be all and end all” card. How about focusing on PREVENTING pregnancies in the first place?

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