July 22nd, 2009
11:38 AM ET
4 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. Carmen, Miami FL

    To panem et circenses, war is against my religious beliefs, so I guess I won't be paying for them! And at least one religion doesn't support blood transfusion, will you support them if they protest? Your argument is not valid.

    July 22, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  2. angelicalive09

    All of this controversy over publicly funded abortions fails to take into account that regardless of your stance on abortion, from a financial standpoint it is much less expensive for the government to provide free to low cost birth control as well as well as access to abortions. If you compare the cost of that birth control or abortions to the cost of paying for labor and delivery, medicaid, food stamps, cash assistance for poor unwed and teen parents. Not to mention the cost of foster care for the tens of thousands of children that are in the state oster care systems.

    July 22, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  3. tien

    As part of reducing healthcare cost, why pay for sick infants throughout their lives? Why pay for the elderly who've already had a life – hence "mandatory end of life counselling". Hey I didn't make it up, it's in the bill. So as a cost risk and burden on healthcare, are pregnancies that result in a mental or physcial health issues will they be forced to terminate? Is that really a stretch?

    Also of note (Page 16 of the bill – again, I didn't make this up) private insurance companies would not be allowed to accept new members once the bill would be enacted. So that means if you change a job you have to go to the public options. If you have a baby/ies they will be under the public option. Eventually private companies will die out with the patients because their number will only go down until there is nothing left. So it's a lie when they say there will always be a private choice.

    July 22, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  4. Simmy

    Another GOP ploy.....Kick it down the road like an old rusty can.......

    July 22, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  5. mk

    Amazing how abortion has made it into debates on fiscal policy. If you want to talk about inappropriate use of taxpayer dollars, try this:
    Avg cost of an abortion is $200,000.

    I think it is ironic that most people opposed to a woman's right to chose are the same people that don't want to pay for social welfare programs that would help out single moms and underprivileged youth.

    July 22, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  6. tien

    Edit to my note. "Mandatory end of life counseling" is in the bill. Not the question of paying for sick infants throughout their lives. Then again I haven't made it through the whole bill yet.

    July 22, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  7. God bless America

    This is a red herring to deter progress.

    July 22, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  8. John

    I could care less if somebody has an abortion. But I don't want my tax dollars funding some bimbo that wants to use it as a form of birth control.

    July 22, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  9. Elliott

    Dont you people know it's only appropriate to kill babies during war time? Especially in the name of freedom?

    July 22, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  10. RAG

    So Republicans are afraid of "government Bureaucrats" making medical decision for you (no mention of the faceless insurance company bureaucrats already doing so), but they want preachers, priests and self-righeous demogogs that have never seen you to make such judgements? What is wrong with this picture?

    July 22, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  11. Greg

    The right to have an abortion is the law of the land! Get over it! There is no one that is pro abortion only pro the woman's right to choose for herself

    July 22, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  12. CT Resi

    No public funding should go to pay for abortions. If you want to donate your money to a charity that sees to safe abortionse then I'm all for it. But people who are against it should not have to be forced to financially support it.

    I am not opposed to funding for counseling on ALL OPTIONS to pregnant women. But not to pay for procedures

    And everyone always points out unwed teens? There are plenty of non teens who are not in poverty who have abortions.

    July 22, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  13. Mississippi Mike

    I don't want to pay for abortions. If you want to murder babies do it on your own dime.

    July 22, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  14. Robin

    Wouldn't it be cheaper to offer free birth control pills?

    Average cost of an Abortion, $500

    Average cost of Birth Control Pills for an entire year, $250.

    July 22, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  15. Robin

    Abortion is legal. We get it, have 3 or 4 if you want. Just don't ask me to foot the bill.

    July 22, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  16. Sniffit

    "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."

    Then I hereby refuse to pay the portion of my taxes dedicated to allowing people the right ot carry concealed weapons. Seroiusly, do these idiots pay any attention to the LAW they are charged with upholding or has it really all just become a game of waving the wang from the soapbox to pander to subsets of the public identified by polling? Maybe that's just a stupid question to which I already know the answer.

    Abortion is a right. Period. You pay your taxes in part for the gov't and its justice system to defend your rights. Ergo, EVERYONE IS ALREADY PAYING FOR ABORTIONS. Suck it up fundies and quit wasting everyone's time.

    July 22, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  17. panem et circenses

    Carmen, Miami FL July 22nd, 2009 12:53 pm ET

    To panem et circenses, war is against my religious beliefs, so I guess I won't be paying for them! And at least one religion doesn't support blood transfusion, will you support them if they protest? Your argument is not valid.

    ***

    Abortion is war on the unborn...so I guess that puts you in our camp.

    I personally don't believe in welfare or providing free education to illegal aliens. Let's put everything on the voluntary contribution plan and we can all be happy!

    July 22, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  18. Kevin in Ohio

    @Librarian July 22nd, 2009 12:36 pm ET

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

    Then don't ask me to PAY for it! Typical left-wing lunacy.

    July 22, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  19. European-American

    @carlos only smarter
    Perhaops, but will they now get the latino vote back? Or at least the true Catholics?

    July 22, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  20. Sniffit

    @ panem et circenses, who said "I won't [have an abortion], thanks. And I also won't pay for yours, which is the point of this story."

    Better stop paying your taxes altogether then because the gov't and justice system exists in part to defend our rights...the courts, the attorney generals, etc...and guess what? ABORTION IS A RIGHT. Your tax money already goes to defending abortion rights...didn't you know?

    This is just pandering and another attempt by the conservatives to throw a road block up against health care reform. They're USING YOU to protect the insurance industry and Big Pharma. Get a clue.

    July 22, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  21. Steph

    Wally,
    This "pro-choice, Dem-Lib would love to have more of my tax money go towards preventing abortions...birth control, appropriate sex education and services for young teenage girls that promote a positive self-esteem and career opportunities (and yes, they should also teach abstinence along with giving good advice on protection if someone does decide to be sexually active).

    THAT would drastically reduce the need for abortions! Making it illegal would and cause more deaths (children and their mothers). Don't fool yourself into thinking changing Roe vs Wade will end all abortions.

    July 22, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  22. Nice Job

    @ panem et circenses

    You are awesome! Nice work with the answers to the obviously sarcastic questions.

    July 22, 2009 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  23. Ernie in LA

    Condoms should be made illegal. The new health care bill will cover the cost of abortions so let every woman get pregnant and well, who ever decides that they do not want the child can just go have it aborted real quick and there is no problem and the man doesn't have to worry with a condom. (We hate those anyway). Let's just give up all of our morals like Rhode Island.

    July 22, 2009 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  24. Kevin in Ohio

    @Dutch/Bad Newz, VA July 22nd, 2009 12:15 pm ET

    "Leave abortion out of this debate...."
    __________________

    So if this bill includes abortion as part of what I will have to pay for, I should just IGNORE it???? You are more of an idiot than I thought. Typical left-wing thinking.

    July 22, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  25. Vancouver, bc

    Why aren't these people picketing in the streets about the dismal mortality rates of America both for infants and children under five??

    Americans should be ASHAMED that citizens have to line up for health care formerly reserved for third world countries. The world is watching like they did during Katrina and seeing that this socalled "richest" , "best" country in the world is nothing but a feeble voice behind a curtain.

    July 22, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
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