Media PolitiFact Web Site: Obama, Abortion Advocates Misrepresent Stupak Amdt

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 10, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Media PolitiFact Web Site: Obama, Abortion Advocates Misrepresent Stupak Amdt

by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 10
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — A media web site that serves as a watchdog for the claims made by politicians and political groups say abortion advocates are misrepresenting the Stupak amendment when they say it would prohibit women from paying for abortions with their own money in their own insurance plans.

The Stupak amendment was added to the House-approved government-run health care bill and it prohibits government funding under the measure.

Specifically, it makes sure that the public option and the affordability credits in the bill are not used to allow the government to pay for abortions with federal funds.

Pro-abortion groups and lawmakers, in an attempt to defeat the amendment and make it look worse than the Hyde amendment, which prohibits abortion funding under Medicaid, claim the Stupak amendment goes much further.

During the debate, pro-abortion Rep. Nita Lowey of New York set forth the pro-abortion position, saying Stupak "puts new restrictions on women’s access to abortion coverage in the private health insurance market even when they would pay premiums with their own money."

Yesterday, President Barack Obama essentially agreed with the analysis from Lowey and Planned Parenthood when he said he wanted to weaken the Stupak amendment and stop those supposed restrictions.

Not so, says Politifact, the Pulitzer Prize-winning web site that is a project of the St. Petersburg Times newspaper in Florida, which calls the claims "false."

"On one issue right off the bat, we believe Lowey is misleading," the analysis says.

"The Stupak amendment — which now accounts for about four pages of the nearly 2,000-page bill — does not address the entire ‘private health insurance market,’" it explains. "Rather, it addresses how abortion coverage would be handled within the health insurance ‘exchanges’ included in the Democratic-sponsored House health care bill."

"So, by not specifying that she’s talking about how abortion coverage would be handled in the exchange, Lowey immediately makes the issue seem to affect many more people than it actually does," it continues.

But Politifact says Lowey and abortion advocates make "an additional, and we believe more significant, misrepresentation" by saying abortion coverage would be restricted for beneficiaries "even when they would pay premiums with their own money."

"The amendment says that individuals buying insurance on the exchange may still purchase coverage that includes abortions as long as no federal money is used. It also says that insurers may still offer abortion coverage as long as such coverage, and the administrative structure behind it, is not supported by federal money," the fact-checking site notes.

Whether someone would be affected by the restriction depends on whether they receive what the bill calls "affordability credits" — federal subsidies that would allow purchase of health insurance.

People who purchase health insurance with the credits would have to use their own money, and not taxpayer funds from the government, to purchase an abortion rider with coverage for abortions.

But Lowey said the amendment’s restrictions would apply "even when they would pay premiums with their own money," which is clearly not the case, says PolitiFact.

"We believe that Lowey’s formulation is, at best, misleading. The people who would truly pay all of the premium with their own money — and who would not use federal subsidies at all — are not barred in any way from obtaining abortion coverage, even if they obtain their insurance from the federally administered health exchange," it said.

Politifact concludes that abortion advocates are "wrong on two points."

First, they suggest "the amendment applies to everyone in the private insurance market when it just applies to those in the health care exchange." Second, their claim that the restrictions would affect women "even when they would pay premiums with their own money" is incorrect.

"In fact, women on the exchange who pay the premiums with their own money will be able to get abortion coverage. So we find her statement False," it says.

Confirming the analysis, NPR issued a factsheet on the Stupak amendment that said, "Stupak amendment does not apply to private insurance bought with private money."

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