Senate Health Reform Bill to Include Abortion Coverage

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Journalist

According to the nation’s largest pro-life organization, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has rejected the Stupak-Pitts Amendment which stripped abortion coverage from the House health care reform bill and has decided to include abortion coverage in the Senate version of health care reform.

“Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nv.) has rejected the bipartisan Stupak-Pitts Amendment and has substituted completely unacceptable language that would result in coverage of abortion on demand in two big new federal government programs,” said National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) legislative director, Douglas Johnson.

“Reid seeks to cover elective abortions in two big new federal health programs, but tries to conceal that unpopular reality with layers of contrived definitions and hollow bookkeeping requirements.”

The Stupak-Pitts amendment, which was overwhelmingly approved in the House on Nov. 7, prevents federal subsidies for abortion by applying the principles of longstanding federal laws such as the Hyde Amendment to the programs being created in the new health care legislation. These principles prohibit both direct funding of abortion and subsidies for plans that cover elective abortions, in existing federal programs such as Medicaid, the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, and the military.

“Regrettably but predictably, Reid rejected the bipartisan Stupak-Pitts language. Instead, Reid has sought to please the militant minority that demands funding of abortion through federal programs, even though substantial majorities of Americans believe that abortion should be excluded from government- funded and government-sponsored health programs.”

Johnson says that the Reid bill establishes a large new federal health insurance program, known as the public option but referred to in his bill as the “community health insurance option,” which authorizes the Secretary of Health and Human Services to require coverage of any and all abortions throughout the public option program.

“This would be federal government funding of abortion, no matter how hard they try to disguise it,” Douglas says. “In addition, the bill creates new tax-supported subsidies to purchase private health plans that will cover abortion on demand.”

The NRLC vows to continue fighting for the Stupak-Pitts Amendment, “and to oppose the stubborn attempts of congressional Democratic leaders to establish new federal government programs that will fund coverage of elective abortions.”

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