Anti-Choice Amendments Fail in Senate HELP Committee

Emily Douglas

Today, the Senate HELP Committee defeated a handful of anti-choice amendments to the Affordable Health Choices Act, its version of health care reform legislation.

Chalk up a second win for women’s
health on the road to health care reform: today, the Senate HELP Committee defeated a handful of anti-choice amendments to the Affordable Health Choices Act, its version of health care reform legislation (the first win, remember, was passage of a Sen. Barbara Mikulski-sponsored amendment to increase access to basic preventive care for women, including cancer screenings and contraceptives, and prohibit the practice of gender-rating among insurers). 

Senators Hatch (R-UT), Ensign (R-NV) and Coburn (R-OK) were behind the anti-choice amendments, which were intended to hamper women’s access to comprehensive health care in any number of
ways.  They would have prohibited any public
funding of abortion including through
private plans made available through a health insurance exchange; would have expanded provider refusal clauses (we’ve been through that fight before); and would have pre-emptively stated that the bill, if passed in final form, would not supercede existing state laws, such as parental notification statutes, restricting access to abortion care.

Each amendment failed along a nearly-straight party line vote, with Sen. Robert Casey of Pennsylvania the only Democrat to vote for the amendments.

This may not be the last we see of amendments like these, however — the Senate Finance Committee will soon mark up its own version of health care reform, and the tri-Committee House bill is another avenue through which anti-choice amendments could be trotted out.

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