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House Takes Up-or-Down Vote on Stupak Amendment, Threatening Women's Rights

The House leadership bows to anti-choice congressmen, allowing them a vote on an anti-choice amendment to the health-care bill.

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For these and other reasons, "Planned Parenthood strongly opposes the Stupak-Pitts amendment which would result in women losing health benefits they have today," said Richards in a statement released early this morning. The statement continues:

This amendment would violate the spirit of health care reform, which is meant to guarantee quality, affordable health care coverage for all, by [instead] creating a two-tiered system that would punish women, particularly those with low and modest incomes. Women won't stand for legislation that takes away their current benefits and leaves them worse off after health care reform than they are today.

While Rep. Stupak claims that his amendment simply applies the Hyde amendment to health reform, nothing could be farther from the truth

In fact, "the Stupak-Pitts amendment would result in a new restriction on women's access to abortion coverage in the private health insurance market," continued Richards, "undermining the ability of women to purchase private health plans that covers abortion, even if they pay for most of the premium with their own money."

On Friday, House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., said passing Stupak's legislation could jeopardize passage of the bill, because abortion-rights supporters were likely to vote against a bill that includes it.

BACKGROUND on STUPAK-PITTS AMENDMENT:

 

The Stupak-Pitts amendment would:

  • Prohibit individuals who receive the affordability tax credits from purchasing a private insurance plan that covers abortion, despite the fact that a majority of health insurance plans currently cover abortion.
  • Result in a de facto ban on private insurance companies providing abortion coverage in the health insurance exchange, since the vast majority of participants would receive affordability tax credits.
  • Prohibit the public option from providing abortion care, despite the fact that it would be funded through private premium dollars.

The current compromise in the bill, the Capps Amendment, already strikes the right balance between pro-choice and anti-choice interests.

It stipulates that health plans cannot be mandated to cover abortion, but they can choose to.

  • If a plan chooses to cover abortion, the compromise stipulates that no federal funds can go towards abortion, consistent with current federal policy.
  • It ensures state laws regarding abortion coverage are not pre-empted, so if states want to pass further restrictions on abortion coverage, they can.  This a significant win for anti-choice organizations.
  • Protects conscience rights of health care providers and facilities.

The following is a list of editorials in major newspapers that have opposed Stupak-Pitts and similar proposals:

An editorial in USA Today (11/2/09): “[The Stupak amendment] 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.”

An editorial in the New York Times said (10/1/09):
“Conservative critics of pending reform bills want to prohibit the use of tax subsidies to buy any health insurance policy that covers abortion. Some want to require women to buy an extra insurance “rider” if they want abortion coverage, an unworkable approach given that almost no one expects to need an abortion, few women would buy the rider and, therefore, few insurance companies would even offer it.”

 

An editorial in the LA Times said (11/6/09):
“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.”