Senate Votes to Keep Coverage of Abortion Drugs in New Health Care Law

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 25, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Senate Votes to Keep Coverage of Abortion Drugs in New Health Care Law

by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 25
, 2010

Washington, DC ( — Coverage of the dangerous RU 486 abortion drug responsible for killing more than 13 women worldwide and injuring at least 1,100 in the United States will remain in the health care law President Barack Obama signed. The Senate, late Wednesday voted against an amendment to the reconciliation bill to strike it.

Senator Tom Coburn, a pro-life Oklahoma Republican, sponsored the amendment, but Democrats filed a motion to table it.

Senators voted 57 to 42 to kill the Coburn amendment and the vote saw pro-life Democrat Ben Nelson, who came under fire for putting abortion funding in the Senate health care bill, join all Republicans in voting against the motion to table.

All Democrats voted for the pro-abortion motion to kill the pro-life amendment, including Sen. Bob Casey, a Pennsylvania Democrat who claims to be pro-life.

The amendment to the reconciliation bill, that Democrats are working to approve to make changes to the health care law Obama signed, would have prohibited coverage or reimbursement for abortion drugs.

According to Coburn’s office, the amendment "would save taxpayers tens of millions of dollars a year by preventing payments for fraudulent prescriptions by Medicaid and prohibiting coverage of unnecessary drugs—such as RU-486 and other abortion drugs" in the new health care exchanges.

"These cost saving provisions will save taxpayers’ money and ensure more resources are available to provide medically necessary care to patients," Coburn’s office said.

There is no prohibition on abortion coverage in federally subsidized plans participating in the new health care exchange.

"Elective abortions are not health care and do nothing to improve or protect the health of patients," Coburn said about his amendment. "Health care dollars should not be diverted from medically necessary care to pay the costs of an elective medical procedure or an unnecessary drug. This is especially true for abortion which ends a life and is abhorrent to most Americans, who will be subsidizing the health care exchanges."

The cost of an abortion pill costs more than the average cost of a doctor’s visit, the senator noted.

According to Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, an abortion pill regimen costs $350 to $650. The average expense for a physician’s office visit was $155, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

"When many Americans are struggling to afford basic doctor for medically necessary care, taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize abortion pills provided by health care exchange," Coburn continued.

Under the health care bill Obama signed, there is no ban on abortion funding. While some states can opt out of funding abortions under the plan, taxpayers in other states will be forced to pay for them.

The bill contains other pro-abortion problems that are concerns for pro-life advocates.

It requires that at least one health care plan be promoted across the country that pays for abortions, more abortion funding would come via the affordability credits, and many of the so-called limits on abortion funding are temporary and could expire or be overturned at a later date.

The bill also pays for abortions under the Indian Health Service program.

And it contains the Mikulski amendment that would allow the Obama administration to define abortion as preventative care and force insurance plans to pay for abortions.

Finally, the bill does not contain language needed to offer full conscience protection for pro-life medical workers and facilities.

ACTION: See how your senator voted here, and contact your senators via and respond to their vote.

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