by Cecile Richards, President, Planned Parenthood Federation of America
“Planned Parenthood condemns the adoption of the Stupak/Pitts amendment in HR 3962 this evening. This amendment is an unacceptable addition to the health care reform bill that, if enacted, would result in women losing health benefits they have today. Simply put, the Stupak/Pitts amendment would restrict women’s access to abortion coverage in the private health insurance market, undermining the ability of women to purchase private health plans that cover abortion, even if they pay for most of the premiums with their own money. This amendment reaches much further than the Hyde Amendment, which has prohibited public funding of abortion in most instances since 1977.
“Planned Parenthood serves three million women every year through its more than 850 affiliate health centers across the country and has worked tirelessly on behalf of those patients for affordable, quality health care. On behalf of the millions of women Planned Parenthood health centers serve, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America has no choice but to oppose HR 3962. The bill includes the Stupak/Pitts amendment that would leave women worse off after health care reform than they are today, violating President Obama’s promise to the American people that no one would be forced to lose her or his present coverage under health reform.
“The Stupak/Pitts amendment violates the spirit of health care reform, which is meant to guarantee quality, affordable health care coverage for all. In fact, this amendment would create a two-tiered system that would punish women, particularly those with low and middle incomes, the very people this bill is intended to assist. The majority of private health insurance plans currently offer abortion coverage, and the Stupak/Pitts amendment would result in the elimination of private abortion coverage in the ‘exchange,’ the new insurance market created under health care reform, as well as in the public option, if one is created.
“The Stupak/Pitts amendment would purportedly allow women who want comprehensive reproductive health care coverage to purchase a separate, single-service rider to cover abortion. But such abortion riders do not exist because women do not plan to have unintended pregnancies or medically complicated pregnancies that require ending the pregnancy. These so-called ‘abortion riders,’ which would be the only insurance policy through which abortion care could be covered in the ‘exchange,’ are discriminatory and illogical. Proposing a separate ‘abortion rider’ or ‘single-service plan’ is tantamount to banning abortion coverage since no insurance company would offer such a policy.
“It is extremely unfortunate that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and anti-choice opponents were able to hijack the health care reform bill in their dedicated attempt to ban all legal abortion In the United States. Most telling is the fact that the vast majority of members of the House who supported the Stupak/Pitts amendment in today’s vote do not support HR 3962, revealing their true motive, which is to kill the health care reform bill. These single-issue advocates simply used health care reform to advance their extreme, ideological agenda at the expense of tens of millions of women.
“Planned Parenthood applauds the members of Congress who stood up for women’s health and voted to oppose the Stupak/Pitts amendment. We will work with those members to rectify this travesty.
“As a health care provider, Planned Parenthood is committed to passing health care reform that will guarantee affordable, quality health care coverage for all, including access to comprehensive reproductive health care. In the coming weeks, Planned Parenthood will work with its allies in the Senate to ensure that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and those who oppose abortion do not once again hijack the legislative process in their ongoing campaign to make abortion illegal. Planned Parenthood will join forces with women and their families and health providers to ensure that health care reform does not take away benefits that most women with private health coverage have today. Together, women and their allies are going to make their voices heard, so that they do not become second-class citizens in a newly reformed health care system in the United States.”