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Leading Editorials Oppose Stupak Amendment
On the heels of a last-minute anti-abortion provision inserted into the U.S. House of Representatives health reform bill, newspaper editorials from across the country have echoed Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s opposition to the Stupak amendment and have called on the Senate to reject the Stupak amendment.
Planned Parenthood strongly opposes the Stupak amendment. It is an unacceptable addition to the health care reform bill that, if enacted, would result in women losing health benefits they have today.
Simply put, the Stupak amendment would restrict women’s access to abortion coverage in the newly created health care exchange, undermining the ability of millions of women to purchase private health insurance that covers abortion, even if women pay for all or most of the premiums with their own money. This amendment reaches much further than the Hyde Amendment, which has prohibited public funding of abortion in most instances since 1977. Also, the Stupak amendment would ban abortion in the new public option, which would compete with private health plans in the exchange. Enrollees in the public plan would also pay premiums with their own money, yet the public plan would be forbidden from offering abortion care as part of its benefits package.
There is a broad, growing consensus that this abortion ban must be removed from the health care reform bill, and newspaper editorials are leading the charge in explaining this to the American public.
A roundup of editorials opposing the Stupak amendment:
New York Times editorial: “The Ban on Abortion Coverage”
“When the House narrowly passed the health care reform bill on Saturday night, it came with a steep price for women’s reproductive rights. Under pressure from anti-abortion Democrats and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, lawmakers added language that would prevent millions of Americans from buying insurance that covers abortions — even if they use their own money....
“The bill brought to the floor already included a careful compromise that should have satisfied reasonable legislators on both sides of the abortion issue. The vast majority of people expected to buy policies on the new exchanges would pay part of the premium and receive government tax credits to pay for the rest. The compromise would have prohibited the use of the tax subsidies to pay for almost all abortions, but it would have allowed the segregation and use of premium contributions and co-payments to pay for such coverage. A similar approach allows 17 state Medicaid programs to cover abortions using only state funds, not federal matching funds….
“The fight will resume in the Senate, where the Finance Committee has approved a bill that incorporates the compromise just rejected by the House. We urge the Senate to stand strong behind a compromise that would preserve a woman’s right to abortion services.”
Detroit Free Press editorial: “Stupak's anti-abortion amendment tramples women and the law”
“There are principled stands against abortion. And there are ways in which current law prohibits the kind of ‘abortion on demand’ decried by abortion opponents -- strictures involving minors, the use of federal funds and procedures to end late-term pregnancies. But there's nothing principled about the position U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Menominee, took when he insisted that health care reform include an abortion restriction that goes far beyond current federal law….
“It went further than a compromise already written into the health care legislation that would have segregated federal funds in the exchange to comply with existing laws that prohibit federal funding of discretionary pregnancy terminations….
“Stupak has always been anti-abortion. But the stand he took on the health care bill does little more than exacerbate the gap in availability for women seeking abortions. It's cruel and arbitrary, but not even a real stand against abortion, just a move that panders to the most rabid anti-abortion forces. Michigan needed Stupak to be better than that on health reform. It now falls to the U.S. Senate to take a more principled approach to the issue.”
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial: “Not-so-choice: The House health reform unduly restricts abortion”
“One of the last-minute compromises in the House-passed health insurance reform bill imposes unnecessary new restrictions on coverage for abortion. This is fresh evidence that although a woman's right to choose has been established law for 36 years, opponents continue to chip away at it. The amendment was sponsored by Michigan Democrat Bart Stupak and, on a vote of 240-194, passed far more easily than the overall bill. It would continue a 30-year practice of prohibiting the use of federal funds for abortions, but it goes further….
“It is the nature of compromise that nobody gets everything they want, and the health-insurance bill passed by the House is better than no plan at all. But a previous version of the bill would have adequately segregated federal money away from abortion services without extending the restrictions so significantly. Health coverage for women routinely is more expensive than for men. With this misguided amendment, it stands to be less comprehensive, too.”
Akron Beacon Journal editorial: “A Step Back: The House health-care reform bill unduly restricts abortion rights”
“…. Of all the flaws in the House bill, few are as troubling as the provision restricting the right to an abortion….
“What participating private insurer would bother to include abortion coverage? Most likely, they would drop the procedure from their plans in order to sell more effectively in the expanded market of people receiving subsidies. The problem is, not all those purchasing insurance would use public subsidies. Yet they would be denied the option of buying a plan that included abortion coverage….
“On Monday, President Obama shared his discomfort with the abortion restrictions. He must be dedicated to ensuring that the current Senate language prevails in the final version of a health-care bill.”
Minneapolis Star Tribune editorial: “Measure meddles in women's care”
“The U.S. House of Representatives passed a radical, backward measure on Saturday that would allow the federal government to dictate a sensitive medical decision for millions more American women. The measure is known as the Stupak amendment….
“If enacted, the Stupak amendment would dramatically expand the number of women subject to federal limits on abortion access….
“[T]he Stupak amendment goes much further in expanding the federal restrictions to millions more women -- including those using private dollars to help pay for coverage from private-sector health care plans…. The proposal is blatant government meddling in health care — and it's wrong. The Senate must act and stop the misguided Stupak amendment from becoming a reality.”
New Jersey Star-Ledger editorial: “The abortion roadblock to health care reform”
“…. There’s already a federal law in place — remember the Hyde amendment of 1976? — that bans federally funded programs like Medicaid from covering abortion, except in the case of rape or incest, or if the mother’s life is endangered.
“Now the House bill goes further. It not only bans the use of federal money to buy insurance plans with abortion coverage, it bars insurers that receives federal subsidies from offering these policies to anyone — even to women who do not use federal subsidies. That’s a significant stretch beyond the Hyde restrictions.”
Baltimore Sun editorial: “The anti-choice”
“…. As ugly as the health care debate has gotten, the last thing the women of this country likely expected was that a Democrat-controlled Congress would want to limit their ability to purchase health insurance plans that cover abortion.
“But that's exactly what happened when the House adopted the last-minute anti-choice amendment. It goes far beyond the established practice of banning Medicaid funding for abortion and makes it difficult for anyone buying insurance with any form of government assistance to get abortion coverage. And because of that, the opportunity to purchase coverage for the procedure may be diminished for all women, even those who get no subsidies from the government.”
Palm Beach Post editorial: “House health bill: A start”
“…. The Stupak amendment goes much further. Private insurers, who will want access to the millions of Americans with government subsidies, probably would drop abortion coverage in order to participate in the federal insurance exchange the health bill creates. Anyone from a family of four with an income of less than $88,000 would qualify for the subsidies. So would small businesses. If insurers don't provide abortion coverage on the exchange, even women paying with their own money won't have it. The Stupak amendment goes too far.”
USA Today editorial: “Our view on reproductive rights: Abortion foes seek to use health plan to curb access”
“… Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., is leading an effort to change that bill and ban abortion coverage in any government-run ‘public option’ or in any private policy purchased through the new medical insurance exchanges. That goes too far. It would mark a broad new expansion in the effort to restrict access to abortion. Nearly 90% of private health insurance policies now offer abortion coverage, and almost half of women with private insurance have it. But women covered under the new system would have to find supplemental insurance or pay out of pocket for an unanticipated procedure that can cost from hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on complexity. For anyone unable to afford it, this would amount to a de facto ban.”
Los Angeles Times editorial: “Two hot buttons”
“Sponsors of the healthcare reform bills in Congress have tried hard to steer the legislation around the hot-button issues of abortion and illegal immigration, but to no avail; controversies about both continue to threaten the measures. Supporters say the bills respect the government's long-standing approach to abortion and undocumented immigrants; opponents, however, argue that the bills would flout current policy by allowing tax dollars to finance abortion on demand and nonemergency medical care for people who are here illegally. These disputes aren't really about what the federal government does with tax dollars, however. They're about the indirect effects of that spending, and that's an unreasonable standard….
“The real goal of abortion opponents isn't to maintain the status quo. It's to extend federal prohibitions into private pocketbooks. By restricting coverage offered through the exchange, they hope to make abortion coverage so unattractive that insurers eventually stop offering it in the market for individual and small-group policies.”
St. Petersburg Times editorial: “Preserving abortion coverage”
“…. Opponents of abortion rights want to ban abortion coverage from any health insurance plan where customers receive federal subsidies — going against the trend in the private market and effectively preventing millions of American women from choosing to have access to a legal medical procedure. Congressional leaders need to steer clear. The best solution is to embrace an option that gives women access to abortion coverage but does not spend federal dollars to do it.
“The so-called Capps amendment in the House plan would allow recipients of federal health care subsidies to purchase insurance with abortion coverage — but the abortion coverage would be paid for with private dollars. Contrary to the claims of Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., who has been leading the antiabortion effort, the Capps amendment would not expand federal funding for abortion. Instead it would establish some basic principles to reflect the current health insurance landscape in which nearly 90 percent of private plans offer abortion coverage.”