Illustrating the power of the abortion issue in an election year–and keeping a promise to Rep. Stupak whose vote guaranteed passage of Obamacare–HHS Secretary Sebelius banned coverage for elective abortions in the new high risk insurance pools. Pro choice groups are not amused. From the story:
Anti-abortion groups leapt into action last month when the National Right to Life Committee warned that elective abortions would be covered under a Pennsylvania insurance program created by the health care reform law. The Susan B. Anthony List and the Family Research Council blasted the news to the media and supporters. NRLC began scouring other state plans for similar provisions. Top congressional Republicans sent a letter of protest to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. And within a day, the anti-abortion groups got what they wanted: a nationwide ban on coverage for most elective abortions in the so-called high-risk insurance pools, a position reaffirmed in a Health and Human Services regulation released on Thursday.
Abortion rights advocates were caught completely off-guard. Planned Parenthood and NARAL didn’t publicly petition HHS until after the new ban was imposed. And it took sympathetic Democrats on the Hill a full 10 days to write a letter expressing disappointment with the HHS — and even then, they were so squeamish about the issue that they never even used the word “abortion” in their protest. For abortion rights advocates, the HHS episode was both a reminder of the health reform battle they lost and a warning about the risks ahead: Having a president on their side doesn’t mean they can sit back and expect success. “This is not the outcome we expected,” said Laurie Rubiner, Planned Parenthood vice president for public policy. “We now know we need to be vigilant to make sure there aren’t other areas of the law where there is silence. There is a whole host of areas that we’re going to be watching like a hawk.”
The PP representative thought–correctly in my view–that Obamacare is meant to at least indirectly fund abortion, But to pass Obamacare, firm assurance had to be given, and it is too soon to break those pledges. Pro life groups deserve credit for forcing the administration’s hand.
One final point: This story–and particularly PP’s reaction in the last quote–illustrate how right I was when I said that the regulations that effectuate Obamacare will really tell the tale about most of the controversial issues in this law. Unless, we can get it repealed and replaced with a better reform, that is.