KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Anti-Abortion Groups Threaten Overhaul Because Of Funding Questions

"Abortion is not explicitly mentioned in any of the major health-care bills under consideration in Congress," The Washington Post reports, but "abortion opponents charge that the legislation would make abortion more widely available and more common by requiring insurance plans to pay for the procedures and providing government funding to subsidize plans that pay for them."

"White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said this week that decisions on specific benefits such as abortion coverage should be 'left to medical experts in the field,' referring to a proposed advisory board that would recommend minimum levels of coverage for private insurers. The dispute presents another unwelcome distraction for the White House and a political opportunity for Republicans, who are seizing on the issue as part of a broader attempt to kill health legislation that they believe is too intrusive and too costly."

A proposed compromise offered by a group of conservative Democrats takes the position that insurers would neither be required to nor forbidden from covering abortions as long as no federal money is used. Others have called for an all out ban on funding, The Post reports.

"The conflict comes as two House Democrats on either side of the abortion divide prepare to introduce legislation this week aimed at encouraging pregnancy prevention and greater government support for young mothers. The measure from (Ohio Democratic Rep. Tim) Ryan, who opposes abortion, and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), who supports abortion rights, has attracted an unusual array of supporters ranging from Planned Parenthood to evangelical leaders such as the Rev. Joel Hunter of Orlando."

"Abortion opponents are preparing to rally Thursday against the proposed health-care reforms, and the group Americans United for Life has demanded a meeting with Obama to discuss the issue. … Democratic leaders and abortion rights groups say those concerns (over abortion funding in reform) are exaggerated, and some accuse abortion opponents of attempting to use the health-care debate to further restrict legal access to abortion under private insurance plans" (Eggen and Stein, 7/23).

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