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. Randolph Carter

    Barry wrote:
    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!

    I take the train to work. Why should I pay for highway maintenence? Have a nice day!

    July 22, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  2. Independent

    This is still an issue?!! Get over it people. My body, my decision.

    July 22, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  3. gc

    Ignore this. The repubs are just trying to change the subjects. Watch for the next talking point. It will have something to do with God. Guns or Gays. By the way repubs, you can't have God!

    July 22, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  4. The Party of NO stood calmly by for 8 year while the shrub raped and pillaged America, so, why would we listen to you now?

    Just because you do not condone an action does not mean you can exempt taxpayers from paying for it.

    But here is a compromise, change the law so the taxpayer can decide which issues he/she does NOT want his/her taxes to pay for.

    The rabid Reich and neo-cons can opt out of paying for abortions.

    I can opt out of paying for an unneeded and elective war started by the rabid Reich and neo-cons!

    A win/win.

    July 22, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  5. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    I don't like abortion, but it should be kept safe and legal for those that deam it acceptable. I would like the day when they are only considered by those that need it for medical reason; that time is far off. Unitl then, it should be safe and legal.

    Should it be available to those a part of the possible public medical insurance? I think so especially if other insurances cover them. This goes more so if the procedure is medically necessary for the physical and mental health of the mother.

    July 22, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  6. Chipster

    "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!"

    Why should the government force anyone to pay for health care for elected officials when they don't have it for their families? Why should I have to pay for a war based on lies and obsession, while the people who attacked us go free? Why should I have to pay taxes for a mismanaged auto industry or bonuses for AIG – BTW, passed in 2008 and signed by Pres. Bush!

    Why should I have to pay to make up for taxes that churches don't pay, although they campaign and preach politics the same as any political PAC?

    Since when do our representatives ask us for a list of what we don't want to pay for? Where do I send that list? We can cut this budget WAY down!

    July 22, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  7. Nik

    I never see an argument over whether or not men's health care should be included in this new coverage. This goes beyond abortion. These Republican reps also want to exclude any type of reproductive health care for women, including pap smears and birth control. The religious right and republicans never will understand that without birth control, there will be more unwanted pregnancies. And I am sick and tired of the whole thing being put on the woman, as if we are self-procreating beings. We are entitled to full health care coverage, and why this is even a debate boggles my mind. Are women not members of this society? Do we not have the same rights as men? Why are we treated as lesser beings, not worthy of full health care coverage, and not capable of making the best decisions for our bodies and our rights?

    July 22, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  8. Shucks

    Because of the religious right. How sickening. Now the religious right wants to dictate your health care.

    July 22, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  9. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA - send the fetuses to Michael Vick

    Let's make sure the bill covers Viagra!

    July 22, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  10. Carmen, Miami FL

    Republicans rant and whine about people being denied coverage under a government plan (as if that's never happened under a private plan), so who's trying to ration coverage now? Most private insurance plans cover abortion. Sleazy hypocrites.

    This hard-line approach, where abstinence-only education is the only approach funded and people are harassed and threatened out of having an abortion, hasn't worked in the past and won't work in the future. If you truly want abortion rates to go down, support contraception and education. Apparently not that hard to comprehend if you're not a Republican.

    July 22, 2009 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  11. John in WV

    How many of the nearly 50 million people without health care would ever need an abortion? I had health care for 53 years but it would have never paid for my wife or daughter to have an abortion. Sounds like aother scare tactic to me.

    July 22, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  12. Librarian

    If you don't like abortions, then don't have one.

    July 22, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  13. panem et circenses

    bam July 22nd, 2009 11:58 am ET

    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.

    The Liberals manage to turn every single issue into a referendum on race. I guess that's the only way they can get support from their illegal alien/ghetto voting blocks and NAACP/La Raza puppet-masters.

    July 22, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  14. panem et circenses

    Steve July 22nd, 2009 12:20 pm ET

    Who is this idiot? "Abortion industry"? Tell us, Joe, about this abortion industry you are identifying.

    It's name is "Planned Parenthood". Quite an oxymoron...

    July 22, 2009 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  15. To Obama victim..........

    Health care reform will pass....and YOU get used to it. I just hope you don't develop a pre-existing condition between now and the time reform is enacted Bozo........

    July 22, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  16. panem et circenses

    Hawaii gal July 22nd, 2009 12:25 pm ET

    The bible thumpers need to shut up and remember that abortion is LEGAL, and it a part of health care.

    You are both right and wrong. Abortion is legal with some limitations, but is it NOT healthcare. It is an elective procedure – like liposuction. Except instead of removing 8lbs of fat you accumulated from having too many pizzas, they remove and kill a potential human being.

    July 22, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  17. Louisa

    Hey You! You who are obsessed about women and their reproductive tracts! IT"S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS! Get a life and stay out or ours.

    July 22, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  18. Dave, Central Illinois

    If fetus's could vote, the Dems would be pro-life.

    July 22, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  19. panem et circenses

    Independent July 22nd, 2009 12:27 pm ET

    This is still an issue?!! Get over it people. My body, my decision.


    You are missing the point. It is your body/your decision – just don't ask us to help pay for it. We don't want a portion of our premiums to cover an elective procedure that violates our religious beliefs.

    July 22, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  20. CaliforniaVoter

    I think they should change the law and create an exclusion cause where I can check off that I DO NOT want my tax money to be used to pay for the murder of an unborn and defenseless child.

    It's ludicrous to force people who don't support such an act to pay for it anyway.

    If someone got pregnant by their own actions and are senseless enough to feel no remorse for even contemplating such an atrocity against a child then they should pay for it themselves...

    I want NO part in it.

    July 22, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  21. Wally

    How many of you pro-abortion Dem-libs would like to see your tax dollars go toward anti-abortion causes...perhaps toward the removal of Roe V Wade...?

    Would you not cry foul???

    July 22, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  22. panem et circenses

    Randolph Carter July 22nd, 2009 12:27 pm ET

    I take the train to work. Why should I pay for highway maintenence? Have a nice day!


    Because the police, fire, ambulance, produce delivery trucks, etc. all need to highways to make sure you can live.

    July 22, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  23. carlos only smarter

    repugnant reptiles lost the latino vote already...........now, the will be losing the women's vote.......mindless idiots

    July 22, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  24. Susan (Michigan)

    Stupak lives in the C Street house...which explains his actions..he is not representing Michigan, which respects not only womens' rights, but the rights of prisoners to not be killed by society.
    I do not support abortion, but it is legal, people. I also do not support the death penalty, nor war, but I pay for them through my taxes. As others have said, if someone wants a legal procedure, I will not refuse my tax part of it, better than paying forever for an unwanted child who grows up to be a menace to society. But then, Republicans are only interested in fetal rights...once the child is born, they are against food stamps, health care, and education for saved children unless their mother is rich and can pay for it herself. They also send our kids to kill and die in Iraq, and are all for guns and the death penalty. But they aren't hypocritical at all, are they?

    July 22, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  25. panem et circenses

    Librarian July 22nd, 2009 12:36 pm ET

    If you don't like abortions, then don't have one.

    I won't, thanks. And I also won't pay for yours, which is the point of this story.

    July 22, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
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