Trading Women's Health for Votes: Legislators Call for Excluding Abortion Services from Government Health Plan

By Christine Cupaiuolo — July 2, 2009

Nineteen House members sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stating that they will not vote for health care reform legislation “unless it explicitly excludes abortion funding from the scope of any government-defined or subsidized health insurance plan.”

Right-o. Because nothing says “crafting broad support” than cutting off health services to half of the population.

The letter continues:

We believe that a government-defined or subsidized health insurance plan, should not be used to fund abortion.

Furthermore, we want to ensure that the Health Benefits Advisory Committee cannot recommend abortion services be included under covered benefits or as part of a benefits package. Without an explicit exclusion, abortion could be included in a government subsidized health care plan under general health care. The health care reform package produced by Congress will be landmark, and with legislation as important as this, abortion must be addressed clearly in the bill text.

Dan Gilgoff at U.S. News & World Report notes that this move made the conservative Family Research Council very happy.

These are the signers: Dan Boren (Okla.), Bobby Bright (Ala.), Travis Childers (Miss.), Jerry Costello (Ill.), Kathy Dahlkemper (Penn.), Lincoln Davis (Tenn.), Steve Driehaus (Ohio), Tim Holden (Penn.), Paul Kanjorski (Penn.), Marcy Kaptur (Ohio), Mike McIntyre (N.C.), Charlie Melancon (La.), John Murtha (Penn.), Jim Oberstar (Minn.), Solomon Ortiz (Texas), Collin Peterson (Minn.), Heath Shuler (N.C.), Bart Stupak (Mich.), and Gene Taylor (Miss).

Plus: Raising Women’s Voices sent an email alert regarding the Senate Finance Committee’s consideration of health care coverage for abortion services:

The Senate Finance Committee has been writing a health care reform bill and struggling to create legislation that will have bipartisan support. Chairman Max Baucus considered several compromises to win Republican support, so they can claim it is bipartisan legislation. One of these potential compromises comes in the form of an abortion exclusion, which would prevent abortion services from being covered by some or all insurance plans in the Health Insurance Exchange. We fear that members of the Senate Finance Committee are considering such a compromise.

Contact the Senate Finance Committee and let them know that women do not support health care reform that happens at the expense of our access to comprehensive care!! Our health care decisions should not be made by politicians and we refuse to allow politically motivated restrictions to undermine reform efforts. We want health care that covers the services we need, and does not compromise on critical women’s health needs.

Please cc so that we know how many of you have raised your voices to speak out for women’s health and challenge the notion that health care can happen on the backs of women and our needs!

Read more at Raising Women’s Voices blog.

2 responses to “Trading Women’s Health for Votes: Legislators Call for Excluding Abortion Services from Government Health Plan”

  1. Thanks for posting this info regarding exclusion of abortion services as a possible compromise in the fight for health care reform. I have just emailed the following to the members of the Senate Finance Committee — short and sweet:

    I understand that the Senate Finance Committee is contemplating several avenues for gaining bipartisan support of a health care reform bill. I am writing to voice my protest of any bill that compromises on critical women’s health needs, including any limitation of access to abortion. All insurance plans in the Health Insurance Exchange must cover comprehensive care for women, which includes abortion services. I urge you to protect women’s rights and women’s lives in the course of your work toward health care reform. Thank you kindly for your consideration.


    Let’s all make our voices heard!

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