CEO Chris Charbonneau says new provision exists only to shame women


Brian Cutler (206) 328-7737

Published: 12.23.09| Updated: 12.23.09

SEATTLE—Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest reacted with strong opposition to new abortion language in the Senate health care reform bill that creates enormous burdens for women and unnecessary administrative hurdles for insurance companies.

Written as a compromise to conservative Democrat Ben Nelson of Nebraska, the plan would require women who receive government subsidies for health care to write two separate checks to their insurer, one for abortion coverage and one for everything else.

“There is no sound policy reason to require women to pay separately for their abortion coverage other than to try to shame them and draw attention to the abortion coverage,” said Chris Charbonneau, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, “Moreover, it is highly unlikely that insurance companies will be willing to follow such an administratively cumbersome system, leaving tens of millions of women without abortion coverage.”

Charbonneau went on to say the new provision is not about separating funds at all, because insurers can easily establish accounting firewalls separating public funds from private funds. “This provision only serves to stigmatize and eliminate a woman’s right to comprehensive insurance coverage that includes abortion—a legal procedure,” said Charbonneau.

Planned Parenthood hopes to work with Congress to remove the Nelson abortion check provision when the two houses conference to craft a final bill. The long-standing Hyde amendment already prohibits federal funding of abortion. The Nelson abortion check provision, like the Stupak amendment in the House, changes the status quo of abortion coverage in the United States, says Charbonneau.


Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest is the region’s leading sexual and reproductive health care provider and advocate. We believe everyone has the right to choose when or whether to have a child, and that every child should be wanted and loved. Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest operates 28 health centers in Alaska, Idaho, and western Washington, providing medical services and sexuality education for thousands of women, men, and teenagers each year. Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. We rely heavily on support from donors to help sustain responsible reproduction.

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