Abortion Advocates Claim Baucus Health Care Bill a Compromise on Funding
by Steven Ertelt
September 17, 2009
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — To hear abortion advocates tell the story, the new Baucus health care bill in the Senate is a significant compromise on abortion funding. There is just one problem — the truth and the public relations ploy Planned Parenthood is employing are at odds with one another.
As National Right to Life and other pro-life groups have noted, the Baucus bill expands abortion funding and includes coverage mandates.
Although the bill doesn’t change existing law, which allows abortion funding in rare circumstances, Planned Parenthood is claiming it has given up something as a compromise in the Baucus bill.
"After months of deliberations and delays, the Senate Finance Committee has released its framework for a health care reform bill," PPFA president Cecile Richards told her troops in an email this afternoon. "Here is the bottom line … we can’t make any more concessions."
"The compromise in place assures that women would not lose health care benefits that they have had for decades while also addressing concerns that no federal funds would be used for abortion. This is the bare minimum that women can accept in health care reform we simply can’t afford to give up any more," Richards claims despite the abortion funding in the bill.
If the Baucus measure expands abortion funding, what does Richards think Planned Parenthood has given up?
Laurie Rubiner, the vice president of public policy and advocacy at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, gave the answer in an email she wrote to Planned Parenthood supporters earlier this month.
"For many years there has been a ban on the use of federal funds to pay for abortions" and, while "we vehemently disagree with this policy," "we understand that this is the law of the land and until we have the political ability to change it, we have to compromise," she wrote.
Thus, Richards appears to think the "compromise" on abortion funding is backing down on her group’s insistence that the Hyde Amendment be overturned and Americans forced to fund 300,000 or more abortions every year with their tax dollars.
The Hyde Amendment is crucial to the health care-abortion funding debate.
For starters, the Hyde Amendment does not sufficiently stop abortion funding in HR 3200, the Kennedy bill or the Baucus measure because it only applies to Medicaid and not the government-run public option or the taxpayer subsidies and co-ops in the Baucus bill.
But, as NRLC legislative director Douglas Johnson explains, passing the Baucus bill now and overturning the Hyde amendment later, as Planned Parenthood eventually wants to do, will turn on the spigots of abortion funding with government money.
Because the Hyde Amendment expires every September 30 and must be renewed by a Congress where a pro-life majority is not always present, as is the case now, that opens the door for more abortion funding.
"Under the Baucus language, if one house of Congress, and/or the President, blocked renewal of the Hyde Amendment, many private insurance plans could be forced to include abortion on demand as a mandatory benefit in the minimum benefits package," Johnson said.
Outside the Hyde Amendment, the Baucus bill includes abortion subsidies and mandates — that pro-life groups want overturned via amendments Richards and Planned Parenthood want stopped.
"You can bet that our opponents are doing all they can to pressure and intimidate lawmakers into using health care reform to place further restrictions," she laments. "After all, they’ve been at it for months."
"Today is day one of a whole new fight," she continues — telling abortion advocates to contact the Senate and ask for abortion funding to be kept in the bill. "We can’t let them cave into the demands of anti-choice ideologues who will not stop until access to abortion is completely eliminated."
She calls on "pro-choice" people to be "be louder and more aggressive than the anti-choice groups."
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