Democrats Want Everyone to Pay for Abortions

| by Jill Stanek

From FRC's The Cloakroom blog today:

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee voted 12-11 today to add a provision to the Kennedy health care bill that would require abortion groups such as Planned Parenthood to be included in any health insurance network created by the bill....

Last night, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved 29-1 the State Department and foreign affairs legislation. The bill would provide $628.5 million for family planning programs, including $50 million for the UN Population Fund.

The committee adopted, 17-10, an amendment... that would make permanent Obama's decision earlier this year to revoke the Mexico City Policy prohibiting U.S. aid to overseas organizations that promote or perform abortions.

A press release from National Right to Life today:

The 2 central "health care reform" bills currently moving in Congress - the Kennedy bill and the House Democratic leadership bill - each contain provisions that would, if enacted, represent the greatest expansion of abortion since the Supreme Court handed down its Roe v. Wade ruling legalizing abortion in 1973.

These bills contain multiple provisions that would result in federally mandated insurance coverage of abortion on demand, massive federal subsidies for abortion, mandated creation of many new abortion clinics, and nullification of at least some state limitations on abortion.

Think about this news in conjunction with Ruth Bader Ginsburg's statement in the New York Times Magazine that she understood the original intent of Roe to be "concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don't want to have too many of." When the Supreme Court later upheld the Hyde Amendment, banning taxpayer funding of most abortions, Ginsburg thought she had been wrong. I said no, she hadn't been wrong, the Obama health care plan would nuke the pesky Hyde Amendment.

Now think about this news in conjunction with repeated polls showing Americans are more and more pro-life. They most certainly oppose taxpayer funded abortions.

In fact, according to Time magazine, July 8...

Should government-subsidized health coverage pay for abortion procedures? For more than 3 decades, that question had seemed pretty much settled. The Hyde Amendment, passed by the House on Sept. 30, 1976, forbade Medicaid - a program for poor people, jointly administered by Washington and the states, which had, up till then, paid for about 300,000 abortions a year - from using any federal money to pay for the procedure. All but 17 states followed suit, banning use of their own funds as well; with a few modifications, the ban has stood up ever since.

The prospect of sweeping health reform, however, has reopened the issue.... [L]ate last month, 19 antiabortion Democrats in the House sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi [left, click to read], warning that they "cannot support any health-care-reform proposal unless it explicitly excludes abortion from the scope of any government-defined or subsidized health-insurance plan."...

Pelosi's office is negotiating with the lawmakers to find some way to accommodate their concerns, but thus far, they haven't found one....

If an explicit ban on abortion coverage were imposed... it could have much further-reaching implications than the Hyde Amendment ever did. It could, in fact, have the effect of denying abortion coverage to women who now receive it under their private insurance plans. Nearly 90% of insurers cover abortion procedures, according to a 2002 survey by the Guttmacher Institute....

Under the legislation... Americans earning up to 400% of the poverty level - $43,000 for an individual; $88,000 for a family of 4 - would be eligible for government subsidies to help them purchase coverage. But if the antiabortion legislators get their way, those subsidies would have a big string attached; they could not be used to purchase a policy that has abortion coverage. For many women, that would mean giving up a benefit they now have under their private insurance policies. And it would raise all sorts of other questions if insurers were allowed to discriminate among their customers based on whether or not they are using federal dollars to pay for their policies....

What a mess for the other side, forced to appease the abortion industry in its health care plan, perhaps to its death. But that ain't all. According to the Republican National Coalition for Life today:

[T]he Catholic Church has lobbied for years in pursuit of nationalized health care. At the same time the Catholic Bishops are vigorously opposed to public funding of abortions. Life Advocacy Briefing, 7/6/09 has reported that Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, chairman of the Committee for Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in addressing the issue of repealing the ban on public funding of abortions in the District of Columbia, " ...this action takes place as Congress is working to win broad support for a much-needed major reform of our healthcare system. This is the worst of all possible times to be injecting the divisive issue of public abortion funding into the debate on government health policy."

Pro-lifers can aid and abet the mess by making sure to call their congresspersons "to demand that abortion funding be specifically excluded from any health care measure enacted by Congress" as aptly stated by RNC for Life. Those like me who oppose nationalized health care altogether can rest assured that enacting a ban against abortion funding will sink their plan.

Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121.