Abortion issues continue to stymie health care reform
In an attempt to address concerns about expanding abortion coverage that might result from changes to the U.S. health care system, Senator Max Baucus (D, Montana), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, amended his proposed bill to say that abortion cannot be mandated by the Department of Health and Human Services. The change echoes an amendment proposed by Rep. Lois Capps’ (D, Calf) to a bill in the House of Representatives, but according to Douglas Johnson, legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee, neither would eliminate the risk of requiring taxpayer funding of abortion because it does not address indirect subsidization of abortion through the funding of private insurance plans and government-chartered cooperatives. Johnson notes, “The Baucus bill provides $6 billion in federal funds for the establishment of health insurance cooperatives, without any limitation on the use of these funds to pay for abortions or to subsidize plans that pay for elective abortions.”
Also, Senator Debbie Stabenow (D, Michigan) is proposing an amendment that would expand family planning coverage under Medicaid and create federally funded school-based health centers were contraception would provided.
Furthermore, a new poll conducted by Public Opinion Strategies found that 52 per cent of Americans agreed with the statement, “I do not want the government to help fund health care plans that fund abortions,” and 55 per cent of Americans agree with the statement, “Whatever my opinion on the issue, I think it would be wrong for the government to pay for abortions.” 43 per cent of Americans would be less likely to support the president’s proposed health plan if the government pays for abortions (including 36 per cent who said they would be “much less likely” to support it) while 46 per cent said the inclusion of abortion funding would make no difference to their support of the plan.
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, which sponsored the survey, said “including government funds for abortion on-demand in health care reform is unappealing to American voters nationwide.”