What Health Care Reform Would Mean for Abortion

Abortion provisions are still in play

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As President Obama pushes health care reform through its latest round, aiming for final passage by Easter, abortion remains a contentious issue. Moderate Democrats, led by Rep. Bart Stupak, have made clear that they may kill health care if the abortion provisions are not sufficiently strict. But liberal Democrats have signaled they're willing to walk away from any bill they don't like. So clearly abortion provisions are going to be a major deciding factor. Here's what health care could do to abortion as the bills stand today. But those bills are still in play and much could change between now and the final votes.

  • Gov't Already Subsidizing Abortions, Will Continue To  The Washington Post's Matt Miller scoffs, "This entire debate is ridiculous, because the feds already subsidize abortions massively, via the giant tax subsidy for employer-provided care. Today the feds devote at least $250 billion a year to subsidizing employer-based coverage," most of which include abortion coverage. Moderate Dems like Stupak are "taking on the much larger, long-standing federal subsidy for insurance policies that cover abortion, not the tiny, theoretical one on which he’s focused. My guess is his devotion to a higher principle -- political self-preservation -- means he’ll ignore this inconvenient fact."
  • Stupak Hits Poor Women Hard  The Washington Post's Ezra Klein emphasizes that Rep. Stupak's abortion restriction provision "is as much about class as it is about choice." The legislation wouldn't prevent ongoing federal government subsidization of abortion coverage. Rather, it would halt government subsidization or abortion coverage for poor women. It does this by only targeting health insurance options designed for low-income Americans.
  • It Will be Feminist-Friendly  Talking Points Memo's Theda Skocpol argues feminists should get on board. "'FEMINISTS' who are pushing on abortion-funding limits rather than supporting American women need to examine their consciences. NOW’s obsession over abortion is, in effect, betraying a long tradition of American women’s advocacy on behalf of the wellbeing of families and the poor. Poor women cannot now get publicly funded abortions, and middle class women will always get what they need. At issue now is a health reform that will extend critical resources to millions of ordinary women."
  • Worth The Compromise  Think Progress's Matthew Yglesias sympathizes with opposition on abortion, but sees the greater good. "Undue focus on the abortion-funding provisions is missing the forest for the trees. Not only will the bill give subsidized health insurance to currently uninsured poor women, but the requirement that insurance companies not charge women higher premiums than men will be a financial boon to middle class single women. As a matter of principle, discriminating against abortion services is indefensible. But in practice, the need to pay out of pocket for abortions is going to be far offset by other benefits women are getting."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.