As speculation persists about whether President Obama’s push for a health care bill has ramifications for abortion funding, the Population Research Institute is warning that the plan as “one of the clearest and most decisive attacks against the pro-life cause” since Roe v. Wade.
PRI claims the president’s favored bill, HR 3200, “America’s Affordable Health Choices Act,” would include abortion in the minimum benefits of every health care plan and would require every taxpayer and insurance holder to pay for every abortion.
His healthcare plan, in PRI’s view, would discriminate against practitioners who refuse to perform abortions, possibly leading to their unemployment.
However, such claims rest on whether abortion is defined as essential health care. Amendments explicitly forbidding abortion funding have been proposed and defeated, but the status of abortion is not explicitly defined.
In hearings on a Senate version of health care legislation, self-described pro-life Democrat Sen. Bob Casey, Jr. of Pennsylvania and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) expressed concern about an amendment offered by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD).
According to CNSNews.com, Sen. Mikulski proposed “an obscurely worded, two-part amendment” mandating “preventive care and screenings” for pregnant women and women of childbearing age. The specific services would be determined later by the Health Resources and Services Administration, a federal agency.
The amendment also requires insurers to include in their networks “essential community providers” who serve “predominantly low-income, medically underserved individuals.”
Sen. Hatch asked whether “essential community providers” would include abortion providers.
According to Sen. Mikulski, the amendment would include “women’s health clinics that provide comprehensive services, and under the definition of a women’s health clinic it would include Planned Parenthood clinics.”
“It does not in any way expand a service. In other words, it doesn’t expand, nor mandate an abortion service,” she added.
To which Sen. Hatch responded: “No, but it would provide for them.”
“It would provide for any service deemed medically necessary or medically appropriate,” Sen. Mikulski replied.
Sen. Casey expressed his belief that the amendment was “too broad” and could be interpreted “down the road” to include “something like abortion.” He said he would vote against Mikulski’s amendment.
On Monday Sen. Hatch had proposed an amendment in the committee to prohibit any funding of abortion through federally funded health insurance programs except in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother.
His amendment was defeated, while Sen. Mikulski’s proposal passed.