Abortion Could Emerge as Key to Health Care Battle
Jacqueline L. Salmon
Although still under the radar, abortion could emerge as one of the central battlegrounds in the fight over health-care reform. Conservative Christian groups are gearing up to fight health-care reform based on their contention that any plan passed could include funding for abortion.
"Under the largest piece of health care legislation in decades, virtually every American would be required to have health care coverage that meets 'minimum benefits standards' established by the Obama administration. Those benefits would include abortion unless Congress acts to explicitly exclude abortion from the health plan," warned CitizenLink, an arm of Focus on the Family in a recent e-mail blast to supporters.
Health care reform is fairly fast-moving right now. But according to Roll Call, at least 30 House Democrats and Republicans who oppose House reform legislation unless it excludes abortion funding say that draft versions of the House bill includes the option for the Health Benefits Advisory Committee to recommend that abortion services be included as part of a benefits package for the government-subsidized health plan.
But can abortion be covered in a "public option" health care plan? The answer to that question has been no for the three decades. The Hyde Amendment largely forbids federal funds to pay for the procedure. All but 17 states also largely ban state money from paying for abortions.
But the prospect of sweeping health reform has reopened the issue. Abortion rights proponents say the issue is tricky, but they maintain that if an explicit ban on abortion coverage were imposed, it could deny abortions to women who are reimbursed under private plans for getting the procedure if they receive federal subsidies to fund their health-care insurance.
Abortions rights supporters like Planned Parenthood and the National Women's Law Center (NWLC) are, of course, lobbying heavily against an abortion-funding ban in any health care legislation. NWLC vice president Judy Waxman said recently that "Congress should refrain from practicing medicine and instead let medical professionals determine what health-care services will be included in a benefits package."
Posted by: Dewpoint | July 19, 2009 1:36 PM
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