Critical Condition

‘We do not want taxpayer dollars financing abortion.’

Bart Stupak explains his amendment in the New York Times today:

The language in our amendment is completely consistent with the Hyde Amendment, which in the 33 years since its passage has done nothing to inhibit private health insurers from offering abortion coverage. There is no reason to believe that a continuation of this policy would suddenly create undue hardship for the insurance industry — or for those who wish to use their private insurance to pay for an abortion.

For example, the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program provides health insurance through a variety of companies to more than eight million Americans — but it does not allow abortion coverage in any of its policies. Yet the same companies that offer these abortion-free plans to federal employees also offer plans with abortion coverage to non-federal employees. Given that insurance companies are able to offer separate plans with and without abortion coverage now, it seems likely that they would be able to continue to do so on the newly established health insurance exchange.

It is also disingenuous to argue (as some have) that it would be a hardship for insurance companies to provide plans with and without abortion coverage — when the health care bill as introduced in the House and Senate mandated exactly that. Under language suggested by Representative Lois Capps, Democrat of California, the new insurance exchange would be required to provide at least one plan that covers abortion and one plan that does not. If offering separate abortion-free plans in this way was acceptable under the Capps language (which has been endorsed by abortion-rights groups), then it should also be acceptable under the Stupak-Ellsworth-Pitts amendment.

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