July 22nd, 2009
11:38 AM ET
8 years ago

Abortion issue clouds health care debate

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The contentious health care reform debate intensified Wednesday as a bipartisan group of congressmen opposed to abortion pledged to fight any bill that fails to exclude the procedure from the scope of government-defined benefits.

"This issue is not about party politics. It's not about obstructionism. It is about saving lives and protecting pro-life Americans across the country," Rep. Joe Pitts, R-Pennsylvania, said.

"American taxpayers should not be forced to pay for abortion. Nor should they be forced to be unwitting participants as the abortion industry uses (the health care debate) to mainstream the destruction of human life into America's health care industry."

The group argued that, under the current version of the House Democratic leadership's bill, most Americans would ultimately be forced to participate in a plan that covers abortion services. They complained that amendments specifying the exclusion of abortion mandates and subsidies had already been rejected by two of the three House committees handling health care legislation.

"Without an explicit exclusion, abortion will (eventually) be determined to be included in (the) benefits standards" by either Congress or the courts, Pitts predicted. He cited the example of Medicaid, which federal courts ruled had to cover abortion services until Congress passed legislation stating otherwise.

Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Michigan, warned that any comprehensive federal health care law would preempt individual state decisions regarding abortion services

"By making abortion an essential benefit and requiring that provider networks' enrollees have access to the items and services covered, this legislation would negate more than 200 individual laws in nearly every state that have stood the test of time and the scrutiny of the courts," he claimed.

Abortion rights advocates brushed aside the legislators' concerns, asserting that the issue of whether or not to cover abortion services would, in the end, still be decided by individual providers.

"Reps. Stupak and Pitts are obsessed with abortion, even though the health care bills don't reference abortion at all," said Ted Miller, a spokesman for the National Abortion Rights Action League.

"At the end of the day, we expect that the plans will decide what services to cover - just like they do now."

–CNN's Alan Silverleib contributed to this report

Filed under: Abortion • Health care
soundoff (124 Responses)
  1. Enlightened Voter

    republicans say small gov yet want to tell you who to marry and what to do with your body. They say they are pro life yet support the death penalty, war and gun rights.

    July 22, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  2. Kevin in Ohio

    I admit it...I've changed my stand on abortion. Let's all pay for abortions.... the murdered victims are likely to be offspring of liberals and therefore liberal voters 21 years down the road.

    July 22, 2009 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  3. phoenix86

    You KNOW that Obama is going to want abortion funded, subsidized and encouraged by any government plan.

    July 22, 2009 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  4. bam

    The Republicans manage to turn every single issue into a referendum on abortion. I guess that's the only way they can get support from anyone besides their high-roller friends and corporate puppet-masters.

    July 22, 2009 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  5. Steph

    Oh, come on! "Protecting Pro-Life Americans across the country." I didn't know they were at risk. Sounds like more fear tactics again. Do people really fall for this crap...your marriage is at risk because others want to get married (not to you but to someone else)...you are in danger if some other woman (not at all related to you and possibly on the other side of the country) needs to have an abortion to save her life...

    July 22, 2009 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  6. Trade Freedom for Security, Lose Both

    Abortion, unless the mother's life is at risk, is not a form of health care. It is an elective process done for selfish reasons – not for health reasons.

    July 22, 2009 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  7. robert J

    Why is it Republicans can speak about "protecting life" on one hand, and can arrogantly "destroy life" on the other? useless wars, no helath care for the poor, no health care for seniors. Why? because they make money from the political bedfellows off health care and if someone controls it what will they get? Look at what happened to the banks when we let them control what they wanted? Big auto industry,, look what happened to them and the unions who could gov themselves!
    Republican morons!

    July 22, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  8. Barry

    Why should the government force me to pay for abortions when I do not support this! If someone wants an abortion they should have to pay for it themselves!

    July 22, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  9. didi

    Is it a republican ruse?????how idiotic...fix health care first...than we can talk about all these...pres. obama, please fix, so that you will be remembered in the history of USA!!!!

    July 22, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  10. Michael, Torrance, CA

    American taxpayers already pay for many abortions that happen every year. Any abortion that happens at a state or county clinic is supported mainly through tax dollars. I for one would rather pay for the one time abortion than pay for an unwanted child for their entire life through state and federal assistance.

    July 22, 2009 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  11. Melissa

    Republicans, shut up. You have no moral high ground to stand on with the recent behavior of your party membership. You are just trying to stall the bill. Knock it off.

    July 22, 2009 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  12. My 2 cents

    I would far rather see contraceptives and early abortions covered than the way it is now. Presently, a pregnant woman has RIGHTS to healthcare coverage (all of it, not just ob/gyn) with no questions asked (other than her 'due date'). Whereas a middle aged (non-fertile) cancer patient is turned away.

    By the way, isn't this, in itself, a form of age discrimination?

    July 22, 2009 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  13. The only thing clouded are the minds of these incompetent politicians stuck on abortion...........

    Most individuals who proclaim the pro-life position on those in health care understand about duty of the professional. For example, most Conservatives understand Realtors and Brokers have a fiduciary duty to their clients in real estate transactions. Well....these bi-partisan individuals trying to impose pro-life contingencies on health care reform and health care treatment need to have their heads examined. Most of them are probably from the South. Nurses and doctors have a duty to treat their patients directly from the Patients bill of rights. The bill of rights for patients states the patient has the RIGHT not to be excluded treatment because of conflict in beliefs between patients and health care providers. These southern bozo's need to try reading this bill.

    July 22, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  14. Paul

    So Obama wants to kill babies and pay for it with my money? Well, Bush did it, so I guess it's OK, right?. Afterall, abortion is basically a war on the unborn. Taxpayer funded MURDER.

    July 22, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  15. Obama Victim

    read the story left wing zealots............it is BI-partisan.....and while you are reading....look at the previous stories on the lack of support for Obozocare...............this thing is D O A...............get used to it

    July 22, 2009 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  16. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Leave abortion out of this debate. It's bad enough trying to get this bill passed as it is. Abortion will just complicate things more.

    July 22, 2009 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  17. draegun

    When is the country going to finally resolve this issue? Pro-lifers believe in the right to life, but that doesn't mean Pro-choice advocates are for death! Take this energy and resolve the crime problem that plagues our cities. Take this energy and apply it to education – where if we had a higher quality of education, we just may have less unwanted pregnancies.

    I'm not suggesting we advocate unwanted pregnancies by allowing abortion. But in the end, it is a medical procedure that is obviously in demand around the world, not just here in America. As long as there is demand for it, it will be around. I would rather have it legal and under the jurisdiction of the AMA or another regulatory agency where women can safely receive the procedure than have it illegal and a black market procedure.

    July 22, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  18. Scott W.

    All you Dems and Repubs who blindly follow your party leaders are nothing but mindless SHEEP! Wake up, already! Can't you see they are just 2 puppets with the same master? Oh, yeah, you can't because you're brainwashed. That is why America is a dead-man walking. Sorry to bother you. Go back to sleep.

    July 22, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  19. Steve

    Who is this idiot? "Abortion industry"? Tell us, Joe, about this abortion industry you are identifying. Moreover, private insurance plans ALREADY DO pay for abortion, just like any other medical procedure that is a covered benefit of a plan. Besides, Joe, whether you like it or not most abortions are a protected right under the UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION. The law, according to even Chief Justice Roberts, IS SETTLED.

    July 22, 2009 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  20. donttreadonme

    Unless there is a justified medical reason they shouldn’t cover abortions. Just like they don’t cover non-essential cosmetic surgeries.

    Silly me I passed up on buying a new car to make sure I made my insurance payments. I should have bought the car and waited for the Government to take care of me.

    July 22, 2009 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  21. Stuffit

    Enlightened Voter July 22nd, 2009 11:52 am ET

    republicans say small gov yet want to tell you who to marry and what to do with your body. They say they are pro life yet support the death penalty, war and gun rights.
    Democrats say "save the environment" yet want to replace tungsten incandescent bulb with poisonous mercury filled CFLs. Barack says reduce the cost of health care by making it more expensive. Joe Biden says, unless we spend more than we have, we'll go bankrupt.

    Reduce CO2 emissions, stop global warming and noise pollution ... tell a liberal to hold their breath.

    July 22, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  22. Bluskys

    They start a war with lies then send our men and woman into battle to be both killed,injured yet turn around wanting t0 run womans life and their bodys .
    Bug off you republicanbuttheads and stop your dirty tactics R vs W is here to stay what we do with our bodys is absolutely none of your business ,,,,,,,

    July 22, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  23. Hawaii gal

    The bible thumpers need to shut up and remember that abortion is LEGAL, and it a part of health care. What a woman and her doctor decide is best is no concern of others, regardless who pays for what, it is irrelevant. Right wing nuts need to get over this abortion debate....the majority of American are pro-choice, and bombing abortion clinics and killing doctors is illegal.

    July 22, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  24. Jeff - Texas

    There should not be any abortions with the exception of a rape or if the mother will die having the baby. Everything else should not be included that is what condoms and birth control are for. If the stupid people can't figure that out then they should be made to have the baby or go to jail. period!!!!.

    July 22, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  25. Fla.

    Leave it to CONservatives to spin this much-needed healthcare legislation into something not even contained in the bill, just to pander to their far right base. Sad.

    July 22, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
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