Pro-Life Group Says PolitiFact Half Wrong on Abortion Funding in Baucus Bill

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 23, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Pro-Life Group Says PolitiFact Half Wrong on Abortion Funding in Baucus Bill

by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 23
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — The PolitiFact web site that does fact-checking on politicians and political issues got it right when it validated a pro-life group’s analysis that abortion funding is found in the Baucus health care bill. But it got wrong its assessment of National Right to Life’s description of the kind of money involved.

As reported on Tuesday, PolitiFact confirmed that NRLC is right on abortion funding.

"According to Baucus’ chairman’s mark, which provides a blueprint for the plan… health plans in the exchange or co-op [would not be] prohibited from providing abortion coverage," the web site confirms. "In fact, every state exchange would have to provide one plan that covers abortion."

But PolitiFact declared wrong an NRLC statement saying, "Under the Baucus bill…federal funds would subsidize coverage of elective abortions."

National Right to Life says that if the government subsidizes people who are allowed to get health care plans that provide abortion coverage, then taxpayers are subsidizing abortion.

PolitiFact reached these seemingly contradictory conclusions by making the odd claim that the federal government can use federal funds to help purchase private health insurance plans that cover elective abortions, and yet not "subsidize coverage of elective abortions."

"The Baucus plan explicitly states that no federal funds — whether through tax credits or cost-sharing credits — could be used to pay for abortions," it claims.

But Douglas Johnson, NRLC’s legislative director, says PolitiFact needs a new dictionary.

"This is the kind of argument that most journalists and policymakers would not accept for one minute if it was advanced by a private entity that wished to receive a federal subsidy while continuing to engage in activities that are contrary to federal public policy with respect to, for example, race discrimination," he explained.

"We believe that when the federal government pays for insurance, the federal government pays for what the insurance pays for," he continues. "Therefore, since the Baucus bill would spend federal funds to pay part of the premium cost of private plans that cover elective abortion, the federal government would indeed be subsidizing ‘coverage of elective abortions,’ regardless of how the insurer keeps his books."

Johnson says he is not surprised that PolitiFact got it right in one sense and wrong in another.

"Even now, it appears that they have not completely grasped that under the House bill (H.R. 3200), as amended by the Capps Amendment, the ‘public plan’ would be explicitly authorized to cover elective abortions, and that the funds used to pay for the abortions would be legally and in every ordinary use of the term ‘federal funds,’" he said.

"In other words, the House bill explicitly authorizes direct federal funding of elective abortion, through the public plan, and this problem is entirely separate and distinct from the problems that arise from the premium-subsidy program," he says. "Since PolitiFact still doesn’t fully recognize that, it is not too surprising that they are confused about the more complicated Baucus arrangement."

Related web sites:
National Right to Life –

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