Nonpartisan FactCheck Web Site: Obama Wrong, Abortion Funding in Health Care

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 24, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Nonpartisan FactCheck Web Site: Obama Wrong, Abortion Funding in Health Care

by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 24
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — A nonpartisan web site that routinely serves as a watchdog for public officials, the media and political groups says President Barack Obama has it wrong. says the current health care plans pending in Congress do authorize abortion funding, contrary to Obama’s claims otherwise.

"Despite what Obama said, the House bill would allow abortions to be covered by a federal plan and by federally subsidized private plan," the web site concludes.

At issue are concerns from pro-life groups that the government-run health care plans would include abortion funding and coverage. Obama has said they don’t and gone as far as accusing pro-life groups of lying about the legislation.

The FactCheck web site, run by staff at the University of Pennsylvania, says "it’s true that House and Senate legislation would allow a new ‘public’ insurance plan to cover abortions." The House bill does so "despite" the addition of the Capps amendment that pro-abortion lawmakers say prohibits abortion funding.

"Obama has said in the past that ‘reproductive services’ would be covered by his public plan, so it’s likely that any new federal insurance plan would cover abortion unless Congress expressly prohibits that," FactCheck adds.

That mirrors what National Right to Life and other pro-life groups have said, with NRLC legislative director Douglas Johnson explaining, "the bill backed by the White House (H.R. 3200) explicitly authorizes the government plan to cover all elective abortions."

"And our analysis shows that Johnson’s statement is correct. Though we of course take no position on whether the legislation should allow or not allow coverage for abortions, the House bill does just that," FactCheck said in its analysis.

About the Capps amendment, the Penn web site says it "states that some abortions ‘shall’ be covered by the ‘public option’ plan" — specifically in cases of rape, incest or to save the mother’s life.

In the other 98 percent of abortions that are elective in nature, "the Capps amendment leaves it to the secretary of Health and Human Services to decide whether or not they will be covered."

"Nothing in this Act shall be construed as preventing the public health insurance option from providing" abortion services that would not be legal for Medicaid coverage, the Capps amendment reads.

Although it isn’t certain whether the Obama administration would cover the abortions, FactCheck, and pro-life groups, say it is a virtual guarantee.

FactCheck also verifies pro-life groups when it notes that the public plan will pay for abortions "so long as the plans took in enough private money in the form of premiums paid by individuals or their employers. The Capps language also would allow private plans purchased with federal subsidies ‘affordability credits’ for low-income families and workers to cover abortion."

FactCheck indicates that both private and public insurance plans would include abortion funding under the legislation pending in Congress.

"Low- and moderate-income persons who would choose the ‘public plan’ would qualify for federal subsidies to purchase it. Private plans that cover abortion also could be purchased with the help of federal subsidies," the web site says. "As for the House bill as it stands now, it’s a matter of fact that it would allow both a ‘public plan’ and newly subsidized private plans to cover all abortions."

"Therefore, we judge that the president goes too far when he calls the statements that government would be funding abortions ‘fabrications,’" it concludes.

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