Denial of abortion funding in health care bill ignores 'abortion tax,' say pro-lifers

Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the health care summit while Rep. Nancy Pelosi listens.
Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the health care summit while Rep. Nancy Pelosi listens.


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) denied there was public funding of abortion in proposed health care legislation at the White House Health Care Summit on Thursday. However, critics said her comments ignored proposed "abortion tax" requirements for members of some federally subsidized insurance plans.

Speaker Pelosi’s comments came in reply to charges from House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) that the bill would fund abortions.

“For 30 years, we’ve had a federal law that says that we’re not going to have taxpayer funding of abortions,” he commented.

After “a very serious debate” in the House, Boehner said, the House upheld “the language we have had in law for 30 years that there will be no taxpayer funding of abortions.

“This bill that we have before us... for the first time in 30 years allows the taxpayer funding of abortion.”

President Obama first responded to Rep. Boehner's charges:

“John, the challenge I have here -- and this has happened periodically -- is every so often we have a pretty good conversation trying to get on some specifics, and then we go back to the standard talking points the Democrats and Republicans have had for the last year. And that doesn't drive us to an agreement on issues. There are so many things that you just said that people on this side would profoundly disagree with and I would have to say, based on my analysis, just aren't true, that I think the conversation would start bogging down pretty quick.”

Speaker Pelosi later replied:

“Leader Boehner, the law of the land is there is no public funding of abortion and there is no public funding of abortion in these bills.”

Americans United for Life Action (AUL Action) in a Thursday statement charged that President Barack Obama’s health care plan creates an “abortion tax” for individuals participating in the health insurance exchange.

The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) in a Jan. 14 letter to Congressmen, explained that under the House proposal’s Stupak-Pitts Amendment, a citizen who wished to purchase abortion coverage would have to purchase it separately and with non-federal funds. This could be done through the proposed exchange. 

The Senate bill, according to the NRLC, would allow private plans that cover elective abortion to qualify for a federal subsidy. However, every enrollee in such a plan would be required to make a separate monthly payment “into a fund used exclusively for elective abortions.”

The NRLC characterized this as an “abortion surcharge.”

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