Does the health care plan cover abortion, or not?

Even the different factcheckers are getting confused about this critical question. The answer turns out to be very complicated, as is trying to understand this complicated bill. this article comes up with this helpful conclusion: “Those who claim abortion clearly is covered, and those who say it clearly isn’t, are both wrong.” Read the explanation at the link. A sample:

When advocates claim that the “public plan” — a government-administered health care option — does not cover abortion, they’re being literally accurate…but slippery. The two main bills (so far) do not, in fact, require a plan to cover abortion. However, they don’t prohibit abortion coverage either, instead leaving it up to the Secretary of Health and Human Services to decide, later, whether abortion would be included in a basic benefits package.

Pro-life activists say that if abortion can be covered, it will be covered. It’s certainly not an unreasonable prediction, given that the Secretary and the President are both pro-choice (though neither side talks about the flipside: When President Palin is in the White House she could reverse the policy through a simple executive order). . . .

(Memo to the White House press corps: Please ask Mr. Obama, Robert Gibbs or Kathleen Sebelius the following: “The health care legislation gives the HHS Secretary the authority to decide whether abortion is covered. Will you commit right now that abortion will not be covered?”)

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://viz.tumblr.com Tickletext

    The nonpartisan Factcheck.org comes to a similar conclusion:

    “The truth is that bills now before Congress don’t require federal money to be used for supporting abortion coverage. So the president is right to that limited extent. But it’s equally true that House and Senate legislation would allow a new “public” insurance plan to cover abortions, despite language added to the House bill that technically forbids using public funds to pay for them. 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. 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. Therefore, we judge that the president goes too far when he calls the statements that government would be funding abortions “fabrications.””

  • http://viz.tumblr.com Tickletext

    The nonpartisan Factcheck.org comes to a similar conclusion:

    “The truth is that bills now before Congress don’t require federal money to be used for supporting abortion coverage. So the president is right to that limited extent. But it’s equally true that House and Senate legislation would allow a new “public” insurance plan to cover abortions, despite language added to the House bill that technically forbids using public funds to pay for them. 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. 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. Therefore, we judge that the president goes too far when he calls the statements that government would be funding abortions “fabrications.””

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Seems fairly clear to me that we can at least say that it leaves open the option for covering abortion, and, furthermore, that said option will be used by the current administration.

    But what’s up with the “memo to the White House press corps”? Does the Wall Street Journal not have a staff member in the corps anymore? Why don’t their own journalists ask this question?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Seems fairly clear to me that we can at least say that it leaves open the option for covering abortion, and, furthermore, that said option will be used by the current administration.

    But what’s up with the “memo to the White House press corps”? Does the Wall Street Journal not have a staff member in the corps anymore? Why don’t their own journalists ask this question?

  • J

    While the issue is compelling, it’s hard to take anyone seriously who puts the words President and Palin in consecutive order.
    On the serious side, it amazes me that pro-life activists are opposing a public option. “Pro-life” has become a virtual oxymoron in the hands of the far right.

  • J

    While the issue is compelling, it’s hard to take anyone seriously who puts the words President and Palin in consecutive order.
    On the serious side, it amazes me that pro-life activists are opposing a public option. “Pro-life” has become a virtual oxymoron in the hands of the far right.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Oh come on, J (@3). Opposing the public option is not tantamount to opposing any health care solution for the poor. You may believe that the public option is the best one for maximizing the preservation of life in this country (especially for the poor), but reasonable Christians can disagree on that. It’s a question of policy, not of principle.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Oh come on, J (@3). Opposing the public option is not tantamount to opposing any health care solution for the poor. You may believe that the public option is the best one for maximizing the preservation of life in this country (especially for the poor), but reasonable Christians can disagree on that. It’s a question of policy, not of principle.

  • J

    tODD, I disagree. The value of the public option is that, ideally, it would make health care available to those who cannot afford (or obtain by other means) the private option, which is what most of us have. Not necessarily only for the poor, but to many Americans who are refused health insurance becuase of a pre-existing condition or exhorbitant premiums. The result is tens of millions of Americans without health insurance and thus without health care. That’s hardly, in my view, a circumstance consistent with pro-life.
    As long as health care is dependent on health insurance, and as long as health insurance is provided by private companies, and as long as private companies are driven by the need to make profits, then health care is avaiable to those who can pay these private companies for the insurance by which they obtain health care.
    If you don’t like the public option, fine. But I can tell you that I haven’t heard of any other solution for insuring those the private companies refuse to touch.

  • J

    tODD, I disagree. The value of the public option is that, ideally, it would make health care available to those who cannot afford (or obtain by other means) the private option, which is what most of us have. Not necessarily only for the poor, but to many Americans who are refused health insurance becuase of a pre-existing condition or exhorbitant premiums. The result is tens of millions of Americans without health insurance and thus without health care. That’s hardly, in my view, a circumstance consistent with pro-life.
    As long as health care is dependent on health insurance, and as long as health insurance is provided by private companies, and as long as private companies are driven by the need to make profits, then health care is avaiable to those who can pay these private companies for the insurance by which they obtain health care.
    If you don’t like the public option, fine. But I can tell you that I haven’t heard of any other solution for insuring those the private companies refuse to touch.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    J (@5), you said, “I can tell you that I haven’t heard of any other solution [than the public option] for insuring those the private companies refuse to touch.”

    Well, as I understand it, one possible result of the bills out there right now is to (1) mandate that insurers not be able to turn away people based on pre-existing conditions, (2) require that everyone purchase health insurance, and (3) set up a fund to help those who cannot afford to buy their own insurance. These three points alone meet your condition, without need for a public option.

    Of course, that’s just one way it could happen. Conservatives might also support the government getting out of health care entirely and, in such a situation, might privately contribute to a charity that helps the poor to obtain health care. This would also be a consistent pro-life attitude.

    I would agree, however, that a person who thinks the government should not help the (poor and) sick, and also thinks that they should not personally contribute to charity to help the (poor and) sick, is not likely very concerned about the poor and sick.

    Again, this is a question of policy, without need for questioning people’s principles (unless you can, say, prove that they in fact do not give to such charities or otherwise attempt to help the poor in this regard).

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    J (@5), you said, “I can tell you that I haven’t heard of any other solution [than the public option] for insuring those the private companies refuse to touch.”

    Well, as I understand it, one possible result of the bills out there right now is to (1) mandate that insurers not be able to turn away people based on pre-existing conditions, (2) require that everyone purchase health insurance, and (3) set up a fund to help those who cannot afford to buy their own insurance. These three points alone meet your condition, without need for a public option.

    Of course, that’s just one way it could happen. Conservatives might also support the government getting out of health care entirely and, in such a situation, might privately contribute to a charity that helps the poor to obtain health care. This would also be a consistent pro-life attitude.

    I would agree, however, that a person who thinks the government should not help the (poor and) sick, and also thinks that they should not personally contribute to charity to help the (poor and) sick, is not likely very concerned about the poor and sick.

    Again, this is a question of policy, without need for questioning people’s principles (unless you can, say, prove that they in fact do not give to such charities or otherwise attempt to help the poor in this regard).


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