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Women Face Tough Choices on Abortion Coverage

posted by mconsoli

NEW YORK – Millions of American women will face tough choices about abortion coverage if restrictions in the House health care bill become law, both sides in the abortion debate agree.
Divisions over abortion are a major obstacle in President Barack Obama’s push for health care overhaul, with both sides arguing over how to apply current law that bars taxpayer dollars for abortions in a totally new landscape. Under pressure from the Catholic Church and abortion foes, the House added tough restrictions to its version of a health care bill.
The measure would prohibit the proposed new government-run insurance plan from covering abortions except in cases of rape, incest or to save a mother’s life, and bars any health plan receiving federal subsidies in a new insurance marketplace from offering abortion coverage. If women wanted to purchase abortion coverage through such plans, they’d have to buy it separately, as a so-called rider on their policy.
“It forces insurance companies and women to navigate a series of chutes and ladders to get abortion coverage at the end of the day,” said Donna Crane, policy director for NARAL Pro-Choice America.
The amendment’s proponents says its goal is simply to ensure that a long-standing ban on using federal dollars for elective abortions is extended to coverage plans arising from new health care legislation.
Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., an abortion foe, insisted the amendment is not a dramatic change in current law, offered to negotiate if his critics could convince him otherwise, and said it leaves ample alternatives for women to obtain coverage if they use their own money and are willing to buy a separate, add-on plan.
“If you really still want this coverage, you can have it,” he said. “The only difference is that more people will have to make that decision that they didn’t confront before. … More people are going to have to choose, ‘Is this a benefit I want?’”
Crane and other abortion-rights advocates say the amendment would make it harder – in some cases perhaps impossible – for millions of women to have health insurance that covers abortion. They depict it as one of the gravest assaults ever on American women’s reproductive rights.
Two large groups of women would not be affected by the amendment: low-income women already ineligible for abortion coverage because they rely on federal Medicaid funds for health care, and women who have abortion coverage through the private plans of their own or their husbands’ large employers. Most Americans currently have employer-sponsored coverage.
That leaves a significant number of other women likely to be affected – women who would be prime candidates for joining the new federally subsidized plans, but in the process might have to forgo abortion coverage they had previously under a private plan. These would include self-employed women who must buy their own coverage, divorced women who formerly were insured through their husbands’ employers, and women who work in small businesses whose owners decide to seek more affordable coverage through the new exchange.
“This is a middle-class abortion ban that would impact millions of middle-class women,” added Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “It’s saying to them, ‘You can’t get full coverage that meets your needs.’”
Abortion-rights activists say the option of buying additional coverage for abortion – a so-called rider – is a false promise. They cite the examples of Oklahoma and North Dakota, where riders have had negligible use even though allowed under state laws that otherwise ban insurance coverage of elective abortions.
“Abortion coverage should be part of the regular package,” Crane said. “Women don’t expect unplanned pregnancies and don’t expect their wanted pregnancies to go wrong. … They don’t anticipate needing abortion coverage so they wouldn’t buy a rider.”
Kristin Binns of WellPoint, Inc., which oversees health plans serving 35 million Americans, said it’s impossible for the insurance industry at this stage to estimate how much such riders would cost and the extent to which they might be offered.
“We don’t have a clue,” she said.
Douglas Johnson, the National Right to Life Committee’s legislative director, said it’s difficult to forecast the restrictions’ practical impact, but he agreed that some women now covered for abortions would face restrictions if they wanted to switch to potentially cheaper coverage in the new insurance marketplace, known as an exchange.
“There’s a choice they are offered by the government – this gift, this great subsidy – and this plan is not going to cover everything, as a matter of public policy,” he said. “If there’s a market (for add-on abortion riders), if there are people who think it’s that important, it will be offered.”
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that 21 million people would purchase individual coverage through the exchange, under the House plan. That would amount to about 7 percent of Americans under the age of 65. Of those, about 18 million would have government subsidies and thus would have to be in plans that don’t cover abortions.
“Beyond that, it’s an open question for individual insurance companies – how much of their business is in the exchange or outside it,” said Adam Sonfield of the Guttmacher Institute, which studies reproductive-rights issues.
Stupak says one reason his amendment’s impact would be limited is because only a small fraction of abortions – 13 percent by Guttmacher Institute estimates – are paid for directly by private insurance. The vast majority are paid for in cash, even by women with abortion coverage who do so out of privacy concerns.
However, Dr. Willie Parker, an abortion provider in Washington, D.C., noted that insurance coverage could be vital for women with health problems who need hospital abortions costing many thousands of dollars, compared to roughly $400 to $800 for a first-trimester abortion in a clinic.
“The cash option was a challenge for many women even in more reasonable economic times,” Parker said. “I see that becoming worse as people have to make hard decisions because abortion is not considered part of health care.”
Obama says he wants to strike a balance on the issue, but whether such middle ground can be found remains unclear.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



  • pagansister

    Many thanks to the RCC who think it is their job to stick their noses in government, forgetting that this country isn’t a theocracy. They need to take care of their sheep, and stay out of government. Also the other “right to lifers” continue to interfer in a what is a personal and private decision. As the PP woman says, this will affect middle class women.
    Perhaps the RCC and “right to lifers” should set up homes for all those abused children who were born and so totally not planned or wanted even after they’re born. Those babies are the ones used as punching bags, or shaken to death by the “boyfriend”. IF they don’t die, the are so brain damaged they have no life.
    Yes. the RCC strikes again. Benny and his subjects.

  • Nate W

    Pagansister apparently thinks that democracy only applies to those who don’t get moral guidance from a religious institution. Thank God her opinion has absolutely no bearing on reality, and religious voters and politicians are allowed to follow their consciences even in the political realm.
    As for abortion, there’s no reason for elective abortion to be covered under any kind of government health plan. If the pregnancy is not a medical problem (i.e., causing a threat to the mother’s health), then there’s no reason anybody else should have to pay for it, whether they agree with the right to abortion or not. And the fact that abortion is a serious moral offense and violation of human dignity to a big chunk of the country is all more reason to keep it out of any health bills so that those of us who want to see healthcare reform can work together on what’s really important.

  • nnmns

    The fact women rarely buy abortion coverage puts the lie to the claim made so often by anti-abortionists that women intentionally use abortion as contraception. If they intended to do that they’d certainly be getting the coverage.
    And it does show that the RCC is far more interested in getting its way than in getting health coverage for millions of Americans who can’t afford it, including the thousands of actual people who die every year because they can’t afford medical care.
    But it’s not the first power trip nor the last by influential blocks when there’s too little margin.
    But I do wish Reid would let the Republicans get up and filibuster important legislation. They’d be the ones to lose by it. He seems to be afraid to win.

  • pagansister

    Those in the RC have no business being lobbyists, NateW. And as I mentioned on another site…you’ve been paying for women’s abortions anyhow…whether you know it or not.
    Also, NateW…just what is equal about women NOT having included the right to an abortion under universal health care? It’s about as equal as denying same gender couples to marry. This country is pitiful when it comes to covering everyone…that is what this legislation is trying to solve. But NO..gotta put religion and moralists in middle of this coverage to screw it up. In a Democracy, EVERYONE (even a woman who wants a legal abortion) should be treated the same when in need of medical care.
    As to my opinion counting? It’s called votes.

  • Nate W

    nnmns wrote: “And it does show that the RCC is far more interested in getting its way than in getting health coverage for millions of Americans who can’t afford it”
    And the exact same thing could be said for any liberals who insist on abortion coverage.
    pagansister wrote: “Also, NateW…just what is equal about women NOT having included the right to an abortion under universal health care?”
    Health care is not about “equality” in the abstract, it’s about meeting people’s basic medical needs, so your question has no rhetorical or logical force. Democracy is not about everyone being treated the same in every regard, either; that has absolutely NOTHING to do with the definition of the word. Democracy is about equal representation and equality before the law. It has nothing to do with ensuring that every woman citizen has the means of paying for an elective abortion.
    Everyone should NOT be treated the same when it comes to non-necessary, purely elective medical procedures. That’s a ridiculous notion that makes about as much moral sense as saying that everyone has a basic right to have equal access to caviar and foie gras. The simple fact of the matter is that unless the abortion is a medically-necessary procedure to ensure the health of the mother, then it is an elective procedure (as morally misdirected as the election of it might be) whose subsidy has no reason to be considered a necessary condition for universal equal access to basic health care. Call it what it is: it’s a social service that liberals think women should have access to so that they can exercise absolute autonomy and control over their own bodies, compete evenly in society with men, etc. It’s not the cure to a disease or a surgery to correct an injury. Treat it like what it is, and advocate for government-subsidized abortions on those social grounds, and then see how American voters respond. Don’t try to smuggle it into a health care bill, because it quite simply is not health care, at least not by any sane definition of the term.
    And yes, we opponents of elective abortion will continue to throw morality in the middle of this, just as pro-choicers do (they just have different morals) and just as any responsible citizen SHOULD do. Democratic detached from morality is arbitrary tyranny based on nothing more than the collective egoism of the masses. Politics is nothing other than ethics writ large. Separate the two and both become hopelessly impoverished, bland, and altogether not worth wasting one’s time with.

  • nnmns

    Can I post now?

  • Confessoressa

    Abortion can be considered a basic medical need. Whether or not it is the right one depends on the woman having it, but ultimately she is the best decider on that. No one is going to agree on the morality of all medical proceedures and yet, we don’t exclude people from paying for a whole lot of things through taxes that they don’t agree with morally and the same should hold true for abortion. Paying for things you don’t agree with is part and parcel of being an American citizen.
    What’s ridiculous is comparing what you eat for dinner with the decision to bring a child into the world. Believe it or not, the decision to have an abortion is most often made with great concern and discernment. I know it’s nice to think of pregnant women as a little more evil than that, it’s easier to criminalize them that way, but it is wishful thinking on your part, Nate. And those women aren’t thinking “Wow, this is elective, like whether to go from a B cup to a D cup.” They are thinking more along the lines of, “What will life be like for this child.”
    When pro-lifers stop dehumanizing women and pro-choicers start acknowledging the concept of life that the RR has, we can get much further in this debate.

  • cknuck

    My medical coverage gives incentives in prevention medicine, exercise, non-smokers, so why in the world should women be able to have casual sex without safeguards against procreation and then we should pay for the death of the offspring?

  • pagansister

    cknuck, you love to throw casual sex into everything….there are married women who opt out of staying pregnant for many reasons….I’ve known a couple. One had an abusive husband, who beat her and threatened to kill her. And on top of that, he demanded that she have the abortion…as he was her husband and at that time had to actually give permission!!! Under those circumstances a child would have led to either 1 or 2 possible murders, her’s and the baby’s. Anyhow, under that and other different circumstances, an abortion can be a necessity. The woman with the abusive husband happened to be my sister-in-law. Fortunately a year later she got the courage to leave him and divorce him. So don’t preach how “evil” it is to have an abortion….you’re not and never will be a woman faced with that decision….or you either, NateW.

  • Your Name

    Incentives to not get pregnant are a great idea. When the incentives don’t work, you still pay for the medical care, don’t you? You also pay for the offspring that are born through social programs and a small amount of charity pays to help those less fortunate too, even though there was “casual sex”. By the way, I’m guessing by casual sex you mean one night stands? How many pregnancies do you think exist because of “casual sex”? Not very many would be my guess.

  • nnmns

    My posts (except one short one) were “held for inspection” last night. This is a test.

  • nnmns

    I’m still unable to make a real post and I’ve asked for an explanation and none’s been given. If the “blog owner” reads this I want to know what your excuse is.

  • Nate W

    Let’s be clear. I’ve never once tried to demonize all women who have had abortions. There’s no sense in doing that. Nor is there any sense in trying to valorize women’s decisions to have abortions. The issue is not about motivations, it’s about the objective facts about the acts being committed.
    And in this particular case, the issue is about whether or not elective abortion should be considered a medical necessity that the government should therefore help subsidize. The way I see it, if you want to make the case that abortion funding is a good social service to provide, make that case in another piece of legislation. Don’t try to smuggle it into a health care bill that’s already facing enough opposition without it.

  • nnmns

    I just tried again to make a real post and could not. I’ve asked repeatedly for an explanation and gotten none. Something funny, or worse, is going on here. Is anyone else having trouble?

  • cknuck

    pagan the whole description of what your sister in-law is going through is “evil” and those types of abortion are rare and covered. I still would not support that kind of abortion. I was born from a bad relationship my mother died and left me orphaned living from one bad foster home to another, fortunately I was not to be aborted. My children, my grandchildren, my wife, my relatives, and the thousands of people I have served all have benefited from my life.

  • cknuck

    YN most abortions are not from rape they are from people who give into their temptation to have unprotected sex. When a person takes the possibilities of those acts and the possibility of pregnancy and put their lust above that then it is casual sex. Never had it? Whose responsible the tax payers?

  • pagansister

    cknuck, you amaze me! My sister-in-law would probably have been dead either while continuing the pregnancy or both she and the baby would nave been dead, after it was born. But you still say she shouldn’t have had the abortion? Guess being threatened with death by her SOB husband shouldn’t have scared her, huh? Well it’s a good thing you don’t run the laws in this country.

  • pagansister

    BTW, cknuck, if you had not been born, no one would know the difference, not your wife, children or grandchildren or relatives and those “thousands” you have helped…or you for that matter. So that isn’t a reason to not abort. Someone else would have been in their lives instead of you….since you would not exist. Cute try at a reason for not giving a woman choice.
    Yes, what happened to my sister-in-law was “evil” but it seems that you would rather she have tried to continue the pregancy AND then be killed along with her baby after it was born. ????Just what kind of logic is that? Absolutely no logic at all.

  • nnmns

    cknuck by your reasoning we should demand that all eggs be inseminated and brought to term somehow. Otherwise thousands of people won’t benefit from each of those people not born.
    Of course some of those born harm people more than they benefit them (I can’t judge your case since I know so little about you) so we should not be making policy based on those ghosts of would-have-been people.

  • nnmns

    Btw, for any fiscal conservatives out there, abortion is cheaper than birth and that doesn’t begin to count the social costs. You should be supporting coverage for abortions.

  • nnmns

    And that’s true for any health insurance you have, public or private.

  • cknuck

    nnmns quote, “Btw, for any fiscal conservatives out there, abortion is cheaper than birth and that doesn’t begin to count the social costs. You should be supporting coverage for abortions”
    nnmns you amaze me but you are wrong only an atheist could support that logic. BTW have you been drinking or something?

  • cknuck

    pagan your argument is a diversion, you did not reveal all of the information or I guess in your passion you statement is unclear. Regardless your sister’s horror story is unusual and should not color the excuse for most abortions. TO the million babies that will be killed this year most will not come from abusive relationships as a matter of fact just the opposite they will come from misplaced passions.

  • pagansister

    cknuck, on my original post on Nov. 13, at 1:51 PM, I did discribe her situation. No diversion.
    In your opinion it is unusual, but you still think, ( I believe) that she should have tried to go ahead with the pregnancy…that is the part I don’t understand. You still think she shouldn’t have had it. That is what amazes me. I totally understand that you think “casual” sex is responsible for most unwanted pregnancies…while they are responsible for some, I seriously don’t think they are responsible for most.

  • pagansister

    No, nnmns, so far I’ve had no trouble with posting. Is your situation better now??

  • nnmns

    There seems to be some sort of limitation on my posting. Longer posts, at least on this board and last night on one or more others, got held. And sometimes short ones. I haven’t tested it in detail. I’ve asked for an explanation and gotten nothing. I’m inclined to wonder if it has to do with the change in management but it might just be a screwup.

  • GodsCountry

    “”…for any fiscal conservatives out there, abortion is cheaper than birth…””
    For any atheistic evolutionists out there, abortion is anti-evolutionary.
    How’s that for a short-sighted, blanket statement?
    Play with fire, get burned by fire.
    However, in your case, this could end up being literal fire – repent NOW, your God awaits.

  • cknuck

    pagan you just don’t want to face reality, no one would want to endanger anyone’s life but as I said before that is a rare situation. Normally most abortions are a matter of convenience

  • nnmns

    One person’s necessity is another person’s convenience. That’s why only the person most involved should get to make the decision, along with any others she cares to involve.

  • Confessoressa

    “Call it what it is: it’s a social service that liberals think women should have access to so that they can exercise absolute autonomy and control over their own bodies, compete evenly in society with men, etc.”
    Let’s be honest, Nate. That statement was an attempt to make women who choose to abort look like selfish people, when in fact, women who choose to abort are often being unselfish in their choice. Frankly, I know plenty of women who have children out of selfishness but I wouldn’t associate the act of getting pregnant to have a child as a selfish one and the act of getting an abortion should not be associated that way either. If you want to talk about specific individuals, fine, but don’t lump everyone together just because it makes your beliefs easier to swallow.

  • nnmns

    GC: “However, in your case, this could end up being literal fire – repent NOW, your God awaits.”
    Your god awaits, but only in your head. Enjoy each other; you made it, you deserve it.

  • cknuck

    nnmns quote, “One person’s necessity is another person’s convenience. That’s why only the person most involved should get to make the decision, along with any others she cares to involve.”
    nnmns that is the most irrational statement I’ve heard from you in a while. You would have us turn over the purse strings to a portion of our taxes to any woman who decides she should have an abortion, regardless to how irresponsible she may be in her sexually. Why do any other form of control when there is a free abortion at the end of the any action.
    confess you talk as the abortion is the beginning when the real beginning is the not thought out sex act. So we should be held accountable for all of the sex acts that irresponsible people engage in leaving our tax dollars at their discretion. The abortion is the end result of some bad thinking get the thinking right and save the drama.

  • Nate W

    Confessoressa, like I said before, I’m uninterested in trying to paint the motivations of women who have abortions as either overwhelmingly selfish or overwhelmingly unselfish. All that’s irrelevant to me. What I’m trying to say is that the fact of the remains that unless the abortion is some kind of MEDICAL necessity (i.e., it poses a real threat to the mother’s health), then the question of abortion funding shouldn’t be dealt with in the context of a health care bill, because it’s not the same thing as other forms of health care. It’s a different social service to meet a different need, whether that “need” comes from selfish or unselfish motives. Unless having a baby is a MEDICAL problem (not a social problem: being threatened by an abusive husband, wanting to finish school, thinking that you can’t give a good life to a child, etc., ARE NOT MEDICAL PROBLEMS), then the question of funding should arise in a different context entirely. And that’s my point: if you want to make the case that the federal government should be doing things to help more women get abortions, then make that case out in the open, in the context of its own debate and its own bill, and let the American people decide what they want. Don’t try to smuggle it into health care reform when non-medically-necessary abortions are not a form of health care.

  • cknuck

    I know women who were advised by abortion freaks and they are to this day in mourning and I also know women who listened to the abortion freaks and lost their ability to have a right relationship and lost their ability to truly love again. Then to some it’s just coldhearted business as usual they have lost a part of their soul.

  • nnmns

    cknuck I expect you hear a lot of what people know you want to hear, especially if, as you imply, you are helping them get aid.

  • pagansister

    NateW, interesting that you don’t think of an abortion forced on a woman by an abusive husband as a MEDICAL PROBLEM. The medical problem would be the death of the woman, thus the zygot/enbryo. That, IMO, is a medical problem.
    cknuck, you continue to think that women use abortion as a birth control method…so have unprotected sex…after all you can always terminate. After one procedure (if a woman really thought that) she would probably prefer to have protected sex (and help protect herself not only from STD’s but an unplanned pregnancy), because having a abortion hurts physically. It is like surgery. No one usually votes for surgery if they have a choice. Mentally…woman have different after affects. Some never think about it again and I expect some do. My experience is that the women I know have NEVER regretted their decision. I expect some do.

  • Nate W

    It’s not interesting, pagansister, it’s a simple definitional fact. An abusive husband could threaten to kill his wife if she didn’t agree to get a third arm surgically infused onto her forehead, and that would indeed be a problem, but her lack of a forehead-arm doesn’t become a medical problem just because she’d go to someone trained in surgery to get the procedure done. If the man beat the woman within an inch of her life, then her injuries would indeed be a medical problem; but the threat itself is not a medical problem, because the root function of medicine is not protecting people from threats but curing bodily malfunctions and promoting good health. A medically elective surgery doesn’t become medically non-elective just because somebody threatens you. Like I said, it’s problem, but it’s not a medical one, because the threat to the women is not posed by any medical condition but by the depraved free will of another human being.
    Abortion doesn’t really solve the problem, either, it just gives the abusive husband more control: he now has complete domination over the woman’s womb, both to impregnate it and to demand the destruction of whatever is conceived in it. From a social standpoint, making abortion easier is a lazy way out that doesn’t really protect the woman from the domination of her abuser; it only buys her a little time by enabling her to acquiesce to whatever tyrannical demands he imposes on her. The demand is indeed tyrannical because it forces the woman to murder her own child for the sake of saving herself (for the moment at least), a choice that should never be imposed on anyone. The real solution to the problem is to put much more effort into helping abused women get out of their relationships and doling out severe punishments for men who are abusive. That’s the only acceptable solution, because, after all, many of the women who are faced with such abuse would never dream of having an abortion in other circumstances, and unless we are doing everyone within our power to make sure they have another way out, we’ve failed both them and their children.

  • pagansister

    Fine line, NateW, fine line.

  • cknuck

    nnmns why would a person say what I wanted to hear long after they have been serviced into success? Some of these people are much more successful than I am yet they come back and donate time, money, and services. You have no clue my friend, your heart cannot conceive tat sought of heart.

  • Your Name

    Nate, do you think medical care for pregnancy and childcare also should not be covered in health care insurance? After all, they are elective. Somehow I doubt it.

  • cknuck

    YN as busy as I am I have followed the discussion enough to know that you are way off base; reread.

  • nnmns

    No he’s not. Nate didn’t want to cover elective procedures. And pregnancy is, of course, elective barring rape and accidents. I believe Nate pretty well painted himself into the “don’t cover elective births” corner.
    As for what women tell you cknuck, I expect the main emotion they feel after an abortion is relief; relief the process is over and relief their problem is solved. Yet you didn’t mention relief at all so I’m thinking they, or you, are leaving a lot out.

  • cknuck

    nnmns as to their main emotions you cannot expect anything it’s theirs.
    Also your eagerness is showing, the only thing elective about hospital covered pregnancy is the elective anesthesia

  • nnmns

    pregnancy is elective, cknuck, in many cases, so if you oppose coverage of elective treatments you’d logically oppose coverage of elective pregnancies.
    I, for one, don’t oppose coverage fo all “elective” treatments. I’m just speaking for Nate :).

  • cknuck

    nnmns quote, “I, for one, don’t oppose coverage fo all “elective” treatments. I’m just speaking for Nate :).”
    nnmns I’m sure you would have us pay for sex change across the board the more chaos the better for you sex changes and abortions on the house.

  • nnmns

    If it’s needed, I suppose I would; hadn’t thought about it. But I wouldn’t do it to increase chaos; not sure what that has to do with it. I’d support it for people who needed it to make their lives less chaotic, or at least less conflicted. Are you in favor of conflicted lives, cknuck?

  • cknuck

    nnmns quote, “Are you in favor of conflicted lives, cknuck?”
    That is a broad question nnmns not that my answer would ever be yes but what source of conflict would you suggest we confront. how much power do we have to deal with the conflict? The question itself is too big but if you were to ask me if I would endorse tax payers paying for sex changes I would say no. I’m sure that in most cases the sex modification operation does little to resolve those sorts of conflict but may in fact complicate things even more.

  • nnmns

    And you’re sure of this how, cknuck.
    Let me guess: you’ve counseled any number of people whose sexes have been changed and they’ve told you things are even more complicated now.

  • cknuck

    You ought to meet more people nnmns in real life

  • Confessoressa

    Real life; real people. A friend of mine retired from my employer a couple years ago after 30+ years of working. She had a sex change a few years back. Her life is uncomplicated. Both her dog and I think she’s a pretty wise person. It’s too bad some people would have stopped her from experiencing the peace she now has.
    For every experience cknuck has whether it be with women who had abortions or women who had sex changes, there is someone else’s experience that is different. Once he accepts the limits of his personal interaction with people, he will maybe see the folly of using this as evidence for his beliefs.

  • pagansister

    It is a fact of life…no 2 people experience the same thing the same way.
    Everyone interprets life differently. Blanket statements are useless.

  • cknuck

    confess once you accept the fact that you don’t know what I know you will stop making silly statements. But I am impressed you actually know someone,

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