Fight Over Abortion Funding Still Dominates Health Care Debate

uscapitol1The controversy over federal funding for abortion has become the new death panel in the health care debate. Those who oppose health care reform have narrowed in on abortion in hopes of derailing the entire package. And although President Obama stated in his speech to Congress that abortions would not be covered under a public option, the truth about abortion funding is a lot murkier than the President stated. According to Women’s e-News:

Pro-choice supporters argue that covering abortion is necessary to maintain women’s health and women’s rights and is already part of current government policy.

Many point to a July opinion poll by the Washington-based National Women’s Law Center, which indicated that 71 percent of voters favor including reproductive services in health care reform . . .

“When the President made this announcement, he traded many women’s futures away,” said Stephanie Poggi, executive director of the Boston-based National Network of Abortion Funds. “The poorest women must scrape and skimp–forgoing food, electricity and even risking eviction by delaying rent–to afford abortion services. And now, the President is recommending that we expand this inequality to millions more women.”

The fact of the matter is that 80% of private health insurance providers offer coverage for abortions. And despite the existence of the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funding for abortions except in the case of rape, incest, or a threat to the mother’s health, federal funding for abortions does exist for people who are on COBRA insurance as a result of losing their jobs. The Hyde Amendment, however, will still be in place unless the health care reform bill explicitly overturns it, and Judi Jennings points out over at the Huffington Post.

An amendment by Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA), which the House Energy and Commerce Committee agreed to by a 30-28 vote, prohibits “the expenditure of Federal funds” for abortions the Department of Health and Human Services cannot cover. As long as the Hyde Amendment remains in place to prohibit Health and Human Services for paying for abortions in most circumstances, the Capps amendment would prohibit federal money expended under the health reform bill for paying for abortions in the same cases.

The FY 2009 omnibus appropriations act reaffirms the Hyde Amendment: “None of the funds appropriated in this Act and none of the funds in any trust funds to which funds are appropriated in this Act, shall be expended for any abortion, except when a woman is in danger of death unless an abortion is performed” but includes exceptions for pregnancies that are “the result of an act of rape or incest.”

Typical legislative mumbo jumbo if you ask me. I really wish that the Democrats would tell the Republicans where to stick it and that they’d just stand up for choice already. If you can’t get health care reform passed with a Democratic president and a Democratic majority in both houses, then you’re never going to get it passed. And if you can’t get the Hyde Amendment overturned under the same circumstances, then I guess we’d all better pack up our protest placards and go home, right?

Scapegoating. That’s all this controversy is about. Smoke and mirrors to distract the American public from the fact that we’re a nation with zero empathy and priorities that are totally out of whack.

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