Senate’s stealth approach to abortion funding 

The devil’s in the details, as they say. Despite consistent public opposition to using federal funds for abortion, six stealth provisions in the Senate health care bill “would ultimately result in substantial expansions of abortion,” says Douglas Johnson, legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee:

1.    Under the Stupak-Pitts Amendment to the House bill, the federal government is prohibited from paying for abortions. However, the Senate bill would create two or more multi-state insurance plans operated by the Office of Personnel Management, and only one would be subject to limitations on abortion coverage.

2.    The House bill requires people who purchase government-subsidized insurance to pay separately for abortion coverage. The Senate version forces even those with private plans that are subsidized by the government and include abortion benefits to pay a mandatory monthly abortion surcharge – or risk losing their private coverage.

3.    The House bill allows no federal funding or subsidies for elective abortions, period. The Senate version creates a permanent abortion funding mechanism written into the laws that govern the long-term insurance programs the bill enacts, so it cannot easily be overturned by a subsequent vote in Congress.

4.    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s Manager’s Amendment, written behind closed doors and adopted three days before Christmas with almost no debate, eliminates the permanent ban on abortion funding in Indian health programs adopted by the Senate in 2008. It also directly appropriates $7 billion over five years to Community Health Centers that are not subject to Hyde Amendment restrictions.

5.    The Mikulski Amendment to the Senate bill gives the Secretary of Health and Human Services unprecedented authority to issue binding regulations that could be used to force every private health plan in the country to cover elective abortions merely by classifying them as “preventive services.”

6.    Finally, unlike the House bill, the Senate bill does not contain a “conscience clause”  that allows health care providers to opt out of abortion procedures on moral or religious grounds.

No wonder they didn’t want anybody to read it.

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