The Corner

Distortions, Getting More and More Rife

Charles Babington writes for AP:

CLAIM: Health care revisions would lead to government-funded abortions. . . .

THE FACTS: The proposed bills would not undo the Hyde Amendment, which bars paying for abortions through Medicaid, the government insurance program for the poor. But a health care overhaul could create a government-run insurance program, or insurance “exchanges,” that would not involve Medicaid and whose abortion guidelines are not yet clear.

Obama recently told CBS that the nation should continue a tradition of “not financing abortions as part of government-funded health care.”

The House Energy and Commerce Committee amended the House bill Thursday to state that health insurance plans have the option of covering abortion, but no public money can be used to fund abortions. The bill says health plans in a new purchasing exchange would not be required to cover abortion but that each region of the country should have at least one plan that does.

Congressional action this fall will determine whether such language is in the final bill.

Nearly everything in this passage is false or misleading. Obama said that there was a tradition of not funding abortions, but did not say that this tradition should continue. Obama is on record favoring an end to that tradition. The government-run insurance program and the exchanges are two different things that are both present in the Democrats’ health-care bills. The abortion guidelines are “not yet clear” only in the sense that the final bill has not been presented to Obama. The E&C bill does not say that one plan in each region of the country “should” cover abortion but that one must. That’s in addition to the public plan, which is explicitly authorized to fund abortion.

Together with colleagues, I have written about Babington before: here, here (second item), and here.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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