Abortion foes win a round in health overhaul

July 19, 2010 08:41

Abortion foes have scored a victory and traditional allies of the Obama administration are grumbling about a decision to ban most abortion coverage in insurance pools for those unable to purchase health care on their own.


The Catholic bishops “welcome this new policy,” said Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, although he added the organization remains concerned that other provisions of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul law will promote abortion.

The issue flared after at least one state — New Mexico — initially decided to allow coverage of elective abortion in a newly launched, federally funded program to provide coverage for high-risk uninsured people turned away by private carriers.

Abortion foes also raised questions about Pennsylvania’s plan, but state officials said the criticism was baseless.

Trying to head off more problems, the Health and Human Services Department announced last week the program will not cover abortions except in cases of rape, incest or when the mother’s life is in danger — exceptions traditionally allowed under federal law.

That’s a more restrictive policy than will be generally applied under Obama’s new health care law.

Starting in 2014, the overhaul will allow federally subsidized health insurance plans to cover abortions, but only if policyholders pay for coverage separately and the money is segregated from government funds.

The current program for the high-risk uninsured was also authorized by the health care law, as temporary help for the most vulnerable, until the big coverage expansion in 2014. But Congress didn’t spell out how to deal with abortion.

Abortion rights supporters say the Obama administration’s restrictions go too far.


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