July 21, 2009
Health Care Reform With Abortion Strings Attached?
Pro-life organizations are launching efforts to combat proposed health care reform that could fund abortions. The groups' concern revolves around the definition of the "essential benefits" that would be mandated for all insurers to cover under any new plan.
The New York Times reported last weekend that an Obama administration official did not rule out the possibility that abortion could be covered. Peter R. Orszag, the White House budget director, said: "I am not prepared to say explicitly that right now. It's obviously a controversial issue, and it's one of the questions that is playing out in this debate."
Pro-life groups are concerned that abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood will succeed in defining abortion as an element of "women's basic health care." Several leaders will participate in "Stop the Abortion Mandate" webcast at 9 p.m. Eastern on Thursday. The speakers will include Mike Huckabee, Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention, Kristen Day of Democrats for Life, James Dobson of Focus on the Family, and Douglas Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC).
Newsweek reports that the abortion issue could be the true "stumbling block" to the health care reform plan and extend negotiations past the summer.
the two versions of a reform bill currently on the tableone from the House and another from the Senate's Health Committeedo not list covered benefits, and that could make it easier to finesse the abortion issue. They leave coverage decisions up to an independent commission or the Department of Health and Human Services.
According to the NRLC, if the bill being discussed by the House now does not include language that explicitly prevents the federal funding of abortion services, "those procedures will be mandated as essential services." On the other side, Planned Parenthood has launched its own campaign, asking people to contact their congressmen about making reproductive health care a priority.
Republicans tried unsuccessfully to restrict abortion coverage in House committees last week. Twenty House Democrats told House Democratic leaders stating 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."