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CHA declines comment on potential federal funding of abortion

.- Responding to reports that new federal high-risk insurance pool programs are covering abortions, the Catholic Health Association (CHA) said it would not comment on the issue. The organization referred inquiries to the federal government.

The CHA backed recent federal health care legislation over the objection of the U.S. Catholic bishops and other pro-life groups who said its abortion funding restrictions were insufficient. CHA president Sr. Carol Keehan also received one of the pens President Barack Obama used to sign the bill.

In a Thursday phone call, CNA spoke with Fred Caesar, special assistant to Sr. Keehan.

Asked CHA’s reaction to claims that high-risk insurance pools in Pennsylvania and New Mexico are covering abortions, Caesar referred CNA to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) statement on the issue.

When asked if he could comment on several questions, including what CHA will do if it is proven that abortion funding restrictions are not airtight, Caesar said he could not.

“We’ll pass,” he said.

The National Right to Life Committee has reported that Pennsylvania’s high-risk insurance pool program, created by the federal health care legislation passed earlier this year, says that it does not cover “elective abortions.” However, “elective abortion” is not defined and Pennsylvania law allows legal abortion if a physician believes that is “necessary” based on “all factors (physical, emotional, psychological, familial and the woman's age) relevant to the well-being of the woman.”

The New Mexico Medical Insurance Pool initially reported it would cover “elective termination of pregnancy.” This policy was changed following media attention.

HHS issued a statement on the issue saying “abortions will not be covered in the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan except in the cases of rape or incest, or where the life of the woman would be endangered.”


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