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The Senate health care reform bill doesn’t fund abortions

One of the big issues surrounding health care reform is whether or not it will provide funding for abortions. Even in this blog, I’ve had people claim that the Senate health care bill would “force everyone to tithe to abortion providers”. Many people are opposed to this bill only because they believe it funds abortions.

This week, Congressman Bart Stupak went on “Good Morning America” and said “If you go to Page 2069 through Page 2078 [of the Senate bill] you will find in there the federal government would directly subsidize abortions, plus every enrollee in the Office of Personnel Management-enrolled plan, every enrollee has to pay a minimum of one dollar per month toward reproductive rights, which includes abortions.”

Timothy Noah at Slate finally did something that apparently the mainstream media is too lazy to do — they actually read the bill. (You can too!) And — surprise, surprise — they found that it does not fund abortions at all (other than in cases of rape, incest, or threat to the mother’s life — the same exceptions in current law). In fact, the bill goes out of its way to make sure that it doesn’t fund abortions.

One has to wonder if Stupak has even read those pages he refers to. This is what it actually says:

  • “If a qualified plan provides [abortion] coverage … the issuer of the plan shall not use any amount attributable to [health reform's government-funding mechanisms] for purposes of paying for such services.”
  • If an insurance plan does want to cover abortions it can, but the insurance company must charge for that coverage separately, so that no federal funding is used.
  • The bill even goes so far as to require that all insurance pools include a plan that does not cover abortions, so that nobody will ever be forced to pay for abortion coverage.
  • Furthermore, insurance companies do not have to provide any plans that cover abortions if they don’t want to, and any state, if they wish, can pass a law that forbids insurance companies from covering abortions in any of their plans.

In other words, Stupak is lying. The bill prohibits federal funding from being used for abortions, and makes sure that nobody is ever forced to pay for abortion coverage.

I applaud Slate for (finally) doing something that the media is supposed to do. Too bad George Stephanopoulos was too lazy.

I also applaud an article on health care reform from a completely unexpected source, BusinessWeek. This article is not explicitly for or against health care reform, but is the kind of thoughtful discussion that the media should be having with us about the issues. Read it.

UPDATE: PolitiFact also agrees that the Senate Health Reform bill doesn’t fund abortions. And anyway, just to make the Right-To-Life fanatics happy, Obama has agreed to put in double-sure extra prohibitions against abortions. So why are they still opposing the health care reform bill? Is it because it isn’t really about abortion, after all?

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  1. Political Irony › Catholic Nuns v. Bishops Smack Down on Wednesday, March 17, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    [...] Things are getting curiouser and curiouser in the world of the people who are opposed to health care reform (or at least claim they are) because they are pro-life. It was strange enough that Congressman Bart Stupak continues to be opposed to the current health care reform bill because he claims it will fund abortions, when it definitely does nothing of the kind. [...]