The Santorum campaign e-mailed reporters this morning a message attacking Romneycare for funding abortions:
With Romneycare, taxpayer funded abortions started as a $50 copay – and while partially subsidizing abortions is horrible enough, now we learn that some of Romneycare’s healthcare plans offer completely free taxpayer funded abortions.
“Mitt Romney has misled voters on Romneycare; he said he was not for mandates at the federal level when in fact he was,” Santorum said. “He said he didn’t require Catholic hospitals to provide services that were against their conscience, when in fact he did, and he said he didn’t provide free abortions under Romneycare, when he did.”
“Sen. Santorum is desperate to salvage his flailing campaign and all he can do is recycle widely-debunked claims,” e-mailed Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul. “No matter how many false attacks he includes in his speeches, Rick Santorum cannot hide the fact that he is an economic lightweight who has zero job-creation experience. It’s clear Sen. Santorum is only out for himself and is doing what he can to reelect President Obama.”
The Romney campaign also sent along this Politifact piece from earlier this cycle addressing the charge:
So Gingrich’s ad is right that some abortions in Massachusetts are “taxpayer-funded.” But that requirement long predated the law Romney signed. “That was already a given,” [president of Massachusetts Citizens for Life Anne] Fox said. “Anything that’s paid for with tax money, like Medicaid, covered abortions.”
Her group was part of an effort to overturn that requirement with a constitutional amendment, but it failed.
“The combination of the court order and state-controlled health care means Romney really wasn’t involved in funding these abortions. It was automatic, and there would be no way to stop it,” Fox said. “We tried. It would have to be a constitutional amendment. It would not be something somebody could just veto.”
Fox’s assessment lines up with that of an abortion-rights group we contacted: “NARAL Pro-Choice America’s position is that the Massachusetts health care plan enacted during former Gov. Romney’s tenure expanded on a system that already covered abortion. Thus, Romney should not get credit for improving women’s access to abortion in Massachusetts,” spokesman Ted Miller said in an email.
However, when I was looking around for more information on the issue, I found this Politifact piece from last cycle which had a different take:
The Thompson campaign, which has been playing up the former U.S. senator’s antiabortion stances, sent out this e-mail in November 2007:
“So what sort of services does Romney’s health care plan provide? Per the state Web site: $50 co-pay for abortions.
“While court mandate requires Massachusetts to cover ‘medically necessary’ abortions in state-subsidized health plans, Mitt Romney’s plan covers ALL abortions — no restrictions.”
And it’s true.
Romney’s campaign counters that the decision about what services to cover was ultimately left up to the independent Commonwealth Care Authority.
But Romney was well-represented: Of the six policy-making members of the authority’s 10-member board, half are appointed by the governor, and half by the state attorney general. Half of the ex-officio members also are appointed by the governor, including the chairman — the governor’s secretary of administration and finance — and the state insurance commission.
Although Romney shares responsiblity with the state legislature and the program’s board, Commonwealth Care was his pet project, and he takes credit for it. We find Thompson’s claims true.