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. Sniffit

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

    You're an unabashed socialist and you don't even realize it? Hilarious. Let the big red ball of hypocrisy keep on bouncin' along!!!

    July 22, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  2. Lou from CT

    Once again, the Republican Party is using the "splatter theory" to scare their colleagues and constituents into dismantling Mr. Obama's health care plan.

    Last I knew, Roe vs. Wade was still the law of the land, or did SCOTUS suddenly reverse it?

    Hey Rep. Pitts – don't go away mad, just go away...

    July 22, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  3. Question for Pro-Choicers

    Question: If you abort (take life, kill, etc.) a baby (fetus, or whatever you want to call it), it's "legally" called "abortion" and accepted as a medical procedure in our society and legal system.

    However, if a person kills a pregnant woman, that person is charged with "double homicide" in our legal system. Why is that killer saddled with TWO murders if the taking of unborn life under the guise of "abortion" is considered legal? Please, someone justify this for me.

    July 22, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  4. Dave

    go figure, Dem's throw another wrench into the Health Coverage reform debate. Thought this legislation was about providing Health Insurance to those not insured and trying to LOWER costs?

    Can't our legislative branch just concentrate on that?

    July 22, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  5. Youngberg

    Kill those babies Dems. Might as well make it free to drum up more business.

    July 22, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  6. Blue Dog

    Abortion doesn't "cloud" the health care debate. This is simply another red-herring hypocritical lie from the RePIGlicans to distract from the central issue, government supported health-care. The RePIGlicans are pulling out all the stops to ensure their huge inflows of cash from the Health Insurance and Pharmaceutical Industries and the AMA.

    This is the same old RePIGlican slight of hand they always use to distract the less educated and ill-informed by inflaming their passions about an issue like abortion or flag burning or gay marriage while they're giving huge tax breaks to their wealthy backers and major corporations and shipping tens of millions of well paying American jobs overseas under the guise of "Free Trade".

    What's amazing is that the gullible right-wingers still fall for this nonsense time after time after time. If you right-wingers want to know why your kids can't read, your wife has to work and your well paying factory job is no longer there for you, thank your local GOP congressmen and Senators. But, at least you've got your guns, morons.

    July 22, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  7. Anny

    This is foolish......there are religions that don't believe in a lot of different proceedures are we going to have to eliminate them for the bill to pass........I have a right to do what ever I want to do with my body and no religous group or political group is going to tell me other wise...the GOP is just as much for bigger government, they want to be in your marriage telling you who you can marry and who you can't, they want to tell you what you can and can not do to your body......they are for life? Then why are they for WAR and GUNS

    July 22, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  8. Fnord-a-saurus Rex

    "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."

    ^good argument.

    I would like to formally announce that all peace loving Americans should not be forced to pay for unjust wars carried out without our consent as the Military industrial complex uses scare tactics to mainstream the destruction of inoccent human life. Please stop taking my tax money and turning it into bombs.
    Thank you.

    good day.

    July 22, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  9. Peggy - TX

    Although I am pro-choice I believe that the abortion procedure unless for serious health issue of the mother or child, is an elective procedure and should not be covered under a government backed insurance plan.

    Healthcare reform is too important for the Dems to take any stand on a non-essential issue that simply gives the Party of No ammunition to stop it!!!

    I am very disappointed at this time in the lack of leadership on the part of the Dems in moving Healthcare reform through; the vacuum they have left is now filled my misinformation from the Party of NO.

    July 22, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  10. Matt

    A public option should include access to any treatment options that are legal. Specifically denying treatment is putting a bureaucrat in between us and our doctor. Exactly what the Republicans SAY they don't want to happen. Hypocritical to say the least.

    If Republicans were so 'pro-life' they would support the child after birth, not just before birth. Currently Republicans are pro-life only from -9 months to age zero. Then the child is on their own...that is until they can be recruited to go die overseas.

    July 22, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  11. Roger from CA

    I'm definitely pro-choice and an Obama supporter, but I have to say that it wouldn't be appropriate for abortions to be covered by insurance, except, of course, when medically indicated (though I would probably include in that category abortion following discovery of potential birth defects/disability).

    Otherwise, abortions should be excluded, just like any other purely elective procedure, like cosmetic surgery (again, except for reconstructive and other medically-indicated procedures).

    On the other hand, I certainly wouldn't reject a health care plan if it paid for abortions. But if excluding abortions would win a few more votes for health care reform on Capitol Hill, BY ALL MEANS do so!!

    July 22, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  12. Obozo is a clown


    If a man is INVITED into intimacy with a woman....and the woman becomes pregnant.... why is the man EXCLUDED when it comes to deciding if the child lives or dies?

    July 22, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  13. obummersux

    it's a toss up....we already pay for all the monkeyshines to have more children so they can sit on their arses and collect welfare.

    July 22, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  14. LDoeTx

    If everyone were just as concerned as keeping those already born healthy and safe, then we would have good affordable healthcare that prevents unnecessary illnesses and deaths. A system that can provide a pregnant woman with the choice to have a child with the support and healthcare needed to have healthy children. There is a law called Roe vs. Wade that some just cannot accept, It provides good rallying ground for those wanting to wedge emotions into an issue that should be made on sound business principles and the needs of us all.

    July 22, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  15. ck

    To Independent who wrote: "This is still an issue?!! Get over it people. My body, my decision"

    True, your body, your irresponsible behavior that most likely led to your unwanted pregnancy, and yes... your decision....

    But its MY money that has to pay for it. GROW UP!.

    July 22, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  16. tn mom

    So I supposed birth control pills are next on their list. I personally don't want to pay for their Viagra prescriptions.

    July 22, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  17. a little sad

    I really think that the issue of abortion is totally separate from the issue with fixing healthcare, but let's leave that aside for right now.

    How can people who don't want a public health option because they are afraid of the govenrment getting between you and your doctor for healthcare decisions justify getting between a woman and her doctor in the area of ob/gyn decisions, including abortion?

    Is that contradictory?

    July 22, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  18. ali

    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.

    I think you are the one missing the point. I could say I don't want to pay for Viagra or Acne medicine or hundreds of other medications or procedures. They are designed to improve the quality of someones life but don't actually save a life.

    There are religions in this country that beleive that ALL medical care is against God. So based on your argument they should be able to deny healthcare coverage to all Americans because it violates their religious beleifs? We don't want you to force your religious beliefs on us any more that you would allow someone to do that to you.

    July 22, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  19. suebee

    If you oppose abortion benefits on the proposed national health plan, then perhaps you would rather pay for the care of unwanted children and the endless social programs they and their mothers/families seek. Ignorance begets ignorance. It's time for politicans and constituents to look beyond their personal convictions and offer choices, which is what abortion should be. Viagra anyone?

    July 22, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  20. Len in Washington

    OK, so some people don't want any of their tax dollars used for abortions. I get it.
    Now, get this.
    My wife and I have no problem with our tax dollars being used in this manner.

    Just because you go to church....you do NOT have the right to tell me, my wife, our children and our grandchildren what to do with our own bodies.


    July 22, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  21. RMD

    I say let the religious nutbags opt out of paying taxes for abortions...and since they value human life SOOOO much, let's tax them for the billions of dollars it will cost to support the unwanted, absued and neglected children who turn to crime as a result. Funny how they turn their backs on these "precious lifes" when it comes to providing welfare benefits.

    July 22, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  22. Fnord-a-saurus Rex

    Maybe people who dont agree with abortion can opt out. The money that would have gone to abortion can go to programs that teach kids about safe sex and using birth control. That way there is less abortions in the world. Everybody wins.

    July 22, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  23. kim

    A lot a Americans are in group ins. and with that, there is coverage for abortions. If someone decides to have an abortion, it's covered. If someone never has an abortion, you are still paying your portion of the group package which includes abortions.

    Then all pro-life believers can purchase healthcare out of their pockets and let's see how much it will cost you! See how you like the high cost of healthcare without reform.

    Just because it's in the package doesn't mean you will or have to use it!

    July 22, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  24. Chris

    July 22nd, 2009 12:22 pm ET

    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."

    I notice that you didn't respond to the comment. Nothing intelligent to say??

    July 22, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  25. Hugo

    Why should our tax dollars go to pay for someone's irresponsible behavior? Abortion is not a form of birth control it is horrific but it is an individuals choice. How about mandated reversible sterilization for Federal assistance recipients so they cannot spawn and perpetuate their lifestyle on our dime?

    July 22, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
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