July 22nd, 2009
11:38 AM ET
10 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. stormerF

    Why is it they want to pass a healthcare bill,but don't want anyone to read it? what are the Democrats hiding?Why not allow the American Tax Payer time to read it and comment on it,After all it is just 1/6th of our Economy?..Why did the Congressional Budget Office(democratically ran now) State that the Health care bill will cost jobs and Further Harm the Economy?....Why the rush,they rushed the stimulis bill and it has become a bust,full of pork and wasteful spending,creating Temporary jobs,and not fixing our infrastructure just quick patch and fix jobs.

    July 22, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  2. Don

    Here we go again about abortion. First of all it is dead wrong. It is not a freedom of choice. You get yourself knocked up then you should have to pay the price. Better yet have your tubes tied so you want be having anymore children for someone else to raise and take care off. Second, no government should be paying for an abortion for someone who doesn't want children. Stop taking the easy way out and blaming someone else. Step up to the plate and get your hands back in your pockets. The tax payers are tired of footing your bill.

    July 22, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  3. David

    Everything clouds the healthcare debate with it comes to republicans. Didn't CNN read it's own article about the GOP memo about stalling??

    If abortions are covered by the private plans it should be covered by the government plan to be competitive. Isn't that what the GOP has been whining about?

    Please hurry up 2010 elections so we can vote the rest of the Republicans out of office.

    July 22, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  4. Shawn - GA

    The whitehouse is killing this because they are not providing any details, they are hoping on the "Hope and change" wave to carry it.

    It is obvious and very scary that there is a LOT of people who want this passed simply because they think it will be helpful. The problem is that they have no idea what the details are… how can you rally behind something without knowing anything about it.

    Example: When questioned about a provision in the bill that appears would not allow insurance companies to write coverage on a private level.. President Obama had no idea about that.

    I can not for the life of me understand why the Whitehouse is pushing this so hard and why so many people are following in kind without any idea of the details or how this will be paid for.

    God Bless America, her people and her President.

    July 22, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  5. Get Real

    I don't have children and don't want them but do I get a choice on paying for their schools and programs? Nope, I have to pay the same taxes that pay for YOUR children. If we get a choice give me my money back. Otherwise deal the fact that some your taxes go to things you might not support.

    July 22, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  6. Neutralizer

    I'm not a bible thumper, but let me say this – if you spread it and you stick it; don't ask me for pay for it. Your body, your decision indeed, why are you asking me to pay for it? You didn't ask me when you did the did, now you want me to pay for it because you end up getting pregnant? Ask the person who impregnated you to pay for it, NOT me; I've got nothing to do with it. Take responsibility of your own action intead of asking the whole society to pay for it. GROW UP!

    July 22, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  7. Adam

    I don't support any religion, so as soon as you stop getting tax breaks from every American tax payer, then we can talk about abortion.

    July 22, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  8. Tatianna

    Well, we all know dems love polls, especially when they used low polls to attack Bush. Obama healthcare polls are sky-diving and this happened before reps mentioned abortion. Life, Liberty and Pursuit Of Happiness. LIFE BEING FIRST. Americans have the right to know if abortion and partial-birth abortion are listed in bill. Reps are not trying to dictate your healthcare, we do not want dems having govt dictate that the unborn is expendable via Obama reform healthcare bill. We have the right knowing if dems are destroying human life at the expense of U.S. taxpayers. Its tempting to believe the General Welfare clause in constitution means govt must provide healthcare to all its citizens. The meaning of the general constitutional govt in the American federal system is a govt oriented to a limited number of limited ends. For reps its easy to understand, but we have to spell it out to dems.

    July 22, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  9. Fred

    Whoever you are, panem et circenses, you're the most intelligent person in this conversation by far. Thanks πŸ™‚

    July 22, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  10. Adam

    The religious right doesn't mind if babies die. As long as they aren't in this country. OH, and once your born, who cares! Go ahead and die, right?

    July 22, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  11. jt

    It's not a moral issue with this conservative. Bottom Line is I'm not paying for your abortion cause you couldn't keep your job, or your pants on...

    July 22, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  12. Royster

    Perhaps Joe Pitts (love the name!) should read Roe v. Wade.....last I heard abortion was LEGAL. Legal procedures should be allowed under health care laws. That being said, perhaps a limit on the number of abortions for one person could be enacted to avoid misuse of certain provisions.

    What will Joe Pitt exclude next? Stem cell research?

    July 22, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  13. Larry

    Abortions should only be paid for in cases where medical judgement deems it best.

    Not as an elective procedure.

    July 22, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  14. Europe Rocks


    MEN need to shut up and stay out of a woman's RIGHT to decide what happens TO or WITH her body. It's THEIR BODY, let them decide. I don't want any WOMAN deciding what happens to my penis.

    I would like to HEAR how many MEN would like WOMEN deciding the fate of THEIR PENISES!!!! There would be a dramatic DROP in babies born in the world if WOMEN were given the POWER to decide what happens to A MAN'S BODY!!!


    Every WOMAN on this earth should have the SOLE RIGHT to decide what happens or does NOT happen to her body. NO ONE has the right to infringed on that right.

    If Politicians are NOT careful. The YOUNGER Voters will RAISE their voices and demand that WOMEN have the SAME right to decide what happens to a MAN'S body. Be careful what you ask for, you may just GET it and MORE than you ever bargained before. Young VOTERS are NOT STUPID. They are not buying ALL this political brain-washing CRAP from Politicians who LIE through their teeth.

    July 22, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  15. aware

    Abortion is doing away with the "least of these" for the sake of convenience in over 90% of cases! Soon it will be the same for the disabled and the elderly. Eugenics is working its way through the system! πŸ™

    And Utopia is not on the way!

    July 22, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  16. history repeats


    who in the world WANTS a private choice?!?! health ins companies are horrible and u usually dont know this until you get sick!! thats why people that are supporting private insurance are supporting it because they either A) are under their PARENTS insurance B) never been seriously ill or C) are RICH!!!!

    July 22, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  17. Nancy in Illinois

    I bet every one of these Senators opposing this is a man. Face it, guys, you just can't control your seed once it leaves your body. If men had babies, no one would have ever opposed abortion, it would have been a right, and specifically written as such, right into the constitution. Get over it! Women have to have domain over our own bodies, just as men always have! I don't see any of you having fits over all the innocent Iraqi women and children we've killed. No, that's just fine. Pitiful.

    July 22, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  18. Larue Vanmeter

    You pay for war to protect YOU, we and the country. You pay for highways to bring YOU and us our groceries, etc.. That's a bit different than paying for a unique and irreplaceable pre-born baby to be violently killed in it's mothers womb.

    July 22, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  19. history repeats

    Obama Victim

    we dont care if it is BI PARTISAN you idiot!! WE understand its not about repubs or dems we just KNOW that there are more LOONEYS on the RIGHT!!! i mean they are more likely not to rely of FACTS And EVIDENCE just FAITH and GUTS!!! thats a recipe for disaster! LIKE YOU!!!

    July 22, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  20. aware

    Yes, Angelica...it is cheaper to kill than to care. It is also dehumanizing, and Pelosi agrees with you. Over-reach is fast becoming over-kill! πŸ™

    July 22, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  21. Angie in Pa

    But American Tax Payers can be forced to pay for Innocent children and pregnant woman to be blown up in Iraq right Republican Senators?

    July 22, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  22. history repeats

    Barry wrote:
    "Why should the government force me to pay for abortions when I do not support this!"

    the same reason you pay SCHOOL tax, but obviously did not learn anything!!! by the way the appropriate symbol after a question is a question mark (?) NOT an exclamation!!!!!

    July 22, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  23. history repeats

    panem et circenses July 22nd, 2009 12:53 pm ET

    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.


    actually YES you will.....america will progress with your without you. what did you people say as you were following that idiot bush into disaster? ah yes "LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT"

    July 22, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  24. Annette

    Abortion, we kill people through guns, weapons of any sort. We steal from folks, we lie about situations and people. We commit adultery and fornication, some dishonor their parents, and the list goes on...all the time. SIN IS SIN!!!!!!!

    We keep trying to label abortion as the utimate sin. All sin is sin to no degree. God hate it all. We all need to reckonize that. The question we all need to think about when we talk about abortion is who has the right to judge anybody sin. Was it right for the doctor to take the life of the gynecologist that perform the abortion? that was killing, what makes that right? Somebody explain that? He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone.

    July 22, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
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