Roundup: What Happened To Abortion in Health Care Reform?

Robin Marty

How can both sides be so angry about abortion in health care reform when only one side is actually losing anything?

Mad. Outraged. Shocked. According to the press, abortion rights advocates are up at arms over news that abortion will not be covered in the insurance pool being created for the sickest of the uninsured.  Yet as angry as we seem to be over this unexpected change in the rules, it seems that the anti-choice movement is even more outraged — in their case over the fact that somewhere, somehow, the government is still funding abortion. 

How can both of these facts be true?

Politics Daily tries to clear it up:

The Department of Health and Human Services and the states are in the process of writing regulations and developing plans to implement the new law.
Anti-abortion forces are worried that loopholes will be inserted in the regulations regarding abortion while abortion rights advocates, such as Keenan, are “outraged” that abortion coverage is banned under the newly-created “Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan,” which is meant to assist those who can’t get or afford private health insurance.
Last Tuesday, the National Right to Life Committee, a leading anti-abortion organization, issued a statement asserting that HHS “quietly approved a plan” submitted by Gov. Ed Rendell for Pennsylvania to “to set up a new “high-risk” insurance program under a provision of the federal health care legislation enacted in March “that will cover any abortion that is legal” in the state.

So, totally clear now.  Anti-choice are upset because ANY money might be used, and pro-choice are upset because we’ve now got a more restrictive policy codified by the federal government.

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But how did we get here?  The AP gives a quick rundown:

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.

Politico traces how the pitchforks really came out via the National Right to Life Campaign, who took the New Mexico and Pennsylvania issue, ran with it, and basically forced the White House to cave to pressure.

Talk dominated conservative news outlets over the last few days that New Mexico and Pennsylvania were going to allow elective abortions as part of their applications for access to the new federal insurance pools. Among the sparks for that round of stories was an AP report in which New Mexico officials initially said elective abortion would be covered under its policies, then started walking that back.

But the National Right to Life Committee sparked an uproar by claiming a similar issue was arising in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania officials strenuously denied that and Democrats accused the NRLC of creating an issue out of whole cloth aimed at testing an executive order President Obama signed last March.

Healh and Human Services tried to tamp out the flap, which followed a year of debate over the Stupak amendment about what would be covered in the bill. Critics argued this week that the abortion restriction provision was mushy, and HHS and Rep. Stupak pushed back.

“As is the case with FEHB plans currently, and with the Affordable Care Act and the President’s related Executive Order more generally, in Pennsylvania and in all other states abortions will not be covered in the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) except in the cases of rape or incest, or where the life of the woman would be endangered,” HHS said in a statement. “Our policy is the same for both state and federally-run PCIP programs. We will reiterate this policy in guidance to those running the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan at both the state and federal levels. The contracts to operate the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan include a requirement to follow all federal laws and guidance.”

Stupak (D-MI), an anti-abortion Democrat, called the NRLC approach “recycled scare tactics” aimed at generating news coverage.

“This is the latest example of some right to life groups politicizing life issues in an effort to undermine health care reform,” Stupak said. “The President’s Executive Order makes clear that federal funds may not be used for abortion under the Affordable Care Act – including the (high-risk) insurance pools currently being implemented in Pennsylvania and states across the country.”

Of course, this doesn’t stop the right from continuing to pursue its erroneous claims.  Bombastic rhetoric like that of the American Thinker needs to be read to truly be appreciated:

When it appeared a few sentimental pro-lifers jeopardized Obamacare, it didn’t take much to sway the easily fleeced Bart Stupak and seven left-leaning lackeys. In order to pass health care reform the President lied to gullible pro-life Democrats, signed a phony executive order, and swore health care would not fund abortion.

Obama might as well have pulled a dirty tissue out of his pocket, called it an executive order and after getting the credulous to agree, crumpled it up and filed it in the “easily deceived” category.

Besides the lies, Barry has, under duress, legally bound pro-life Americans to tax-tithe to the First Church of Obama’s most highly esteemed charity, government funded abortions.  If Barry gets his way, which he always does, regardless of religious affiliation or moral conviction Americans will fund feticide.

Obama claims when it comes to ending a pregnancy, “The decision generally is one that a woman should make.” Yet, the President’s dictatorial decrees deny choice to those who don’t support abortion.  Obama is intolerant toward conscientious objection and denies religious exemption. Barry’s policies force the resistant to hand the abortionist the suction and scalpel by financially aiding and abetting the executioner

So there you go.  The White House has once more thrown reproductive health aside in order to attempt to compromise with a group to whom no middle ground will ever be found.  And once more, women suffer for it.

Mini Roundup: A bus driver in Austin claims he was fired for disapproving of abortion.  Really, he was fired for refusing to drive his bus route, because he assumed the passenger he was transporting was trying to obtain an abortion.

July 16, 2010

Missouri Restricts Abortions – Courthouse News Service

Groups Blast First Federal Funding of Abortions – Christian Post

3 Congress members accuse US of funding Kenya vote – The Associated Press

Anti-abortion group endorses O’Donnell for Delaware Senate seat – The Hill

Bus driver claims abortion views led to his firing – Austin American-Statesman

Georgia GOP gubernatorial candidate Handel on gays, abortion and ethics – Examiner.com

Planned Parenthood Gives Award to Pro-Abortion “Catholic” Speaker Nancy Pelosi – LifeNews.com

Elective Abortions Are Not Covered’? – ChristianityToday.com

Obama’s executive order on taxpayer-funded abortions: Not worth the paper it … – The Hill

Missouri Abortion Restrictions Become Law without Governor’s Signature – Ms. Magazine

Obama Keeps Promise on Prohibiting Federal Funding of Abortion – First Things

Haridopolos Renews Push Against Tax Funded Abortions–and Continues to Raise … – Sunshine State News

US bishops welcome HHS statement on abortion coverage, express grave concern – Catholic News Agency

ObamaCare’s Taxpayer-Funded Abortions Exposed  – BigNews.biz

Delaware Senate Candidate Christine O’Donnell Gets Pro-Life Endorsement – LifeNews.com

Lead Republican on Judiciary Committee Suggests Kagan Misled on Abortion – LifeNews.com

Governor Nixon Signs Bills, Pockets Abortion Law – OzarksFirst.com

Maryland Becomes Second State to Offer Federally Funded Abortions under Obamacare – CNSNews

Mont. sex-ed controversy could open parents’ eyes – BP News

TODAY’S QUESTION: Does Nebraska’s new abortion law make a woman’s right to … – Columbia Missourian

Obama bans abortion for women in high-risk insurance pools – OpEdNews

Beck falsely suggests Ginsburg supports “cleansing” America of “unwanted … – Media Matters for America

Did abortion views lead to firing? – Austin News

Birth Control Effectiveness Linked to Weight – LiveScience.com

Faith and contraception: For LDS, it’s the couple’s choice – Salt Lake Tribune

Washington Revisits Quashing of Pharmacy Conscience Rights – First Things

What the White House’s HIV strategy needs to work – Washington Post

18th International AIDS Conference to open in Vienna – UNAIDS

July 17, 2010

Boehner leverages healthcare reform law to raise funds for anti-abortion group – The Hill

Obama Administration Applies Stupak Amendment to High Risk Pools – Huffington Post

Questions still linger, but critics proved wrong so far – The Age

New pushback from the left – and right – on health care reform – Politico

Pro-life OB-GYN offers to help abortion doc – News Sentinel

Sessions Questions Kagan Role in Abortion Veto – NewsMax.com

Abortion Rate Declines in Michigan in 2009 – Michigan Radio

Candidates provide viewpoints on abortion rights – News-Leader.com

500 ABORTIONS A DAY IN BRITAIN – Express.co.uk

Washington Revisits Quashing of Pharmacy Conscience Rights – First Things

Uzbek women accuse state of mass sterilizations – The Associated Press

Plan B plan irks Gregoire – TheNewsTribune.com

July 18, 2010

On Abortion, Minority Leader should defer to Nana Oye Lithur – Myjoyonline.com

Obama lied, babies died – American Thinker

Pediatrician views  – Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

States try new tactics to restrict abortion – Sacramento Bee

Republican candidates play up differences on abortion – Kansas.com

Sarah Palin sets off a ‘mama grizzly’ war in the GOP race for governor – Atlanta Journal Constitution

Abortion rights activists shocked, mad at Obama White House over abortion … – Chicago Sun-Times

Pro-Life License Plates Available in Massachusetts – Lifesite

Abortion arises as issue in US Senate race in Kan. – NTV

The Resurrection of Charlie Crist – Newsweek

Arguments set on Okla. abortion law – CNBC

Abortion an issue in Moran-Tiahrt – Topeka Capital Journal

Abortion Rights Advocates “Outraged” at Obama White House Over Health Coverage – Politics Daily

Abortion Law Hearing Set For Monday – KOCO Oklahoma City

Human-rights abuses undermine fight against AIDS, world health body says – Globe and Mail

Economic woes put HIV-AIDS advances at risk – CNN

New blood test helps identify HIV status of newborns – Times of India

Mothers tempted to abandon babies in Moscow – BBC News

Why must African women suffer for giving life? – East African

July 19, 2010

News poll: GOP’s gov hopefuls locked in 3-way race – The Detroit News

ObamaCare Abortion Funding Has Begun – The New American

Senate hopeful Bender says he’s got “the ability to get it done” – The Union Leader

Elena Kagan should be in prison, not on bench – Seacoastonline.com

Abortion foes win a round in health overhaul – The Associated Press

Everett Koop urges senators to block Kagan – USA Today

Forget contraceptives, go natural, church teaches – Detroit Free Press

Wash. State Pharmacy Board Backs Pharmacists Who Refuse To Dispense Emergency … – Medical News Today

Bill Gates: World Has Historic Opportunity to ‘Change the Face of AIDS’ – PR Newswire

In US cities, HIV linked more to poverty than race – The Associated Press

Roundups Politics

Campaign Week in Review: Republican National Convention Edition

Ally Boguhn

The Trump family's RNC claims about crime and the presidential candidate's record on gender equality have kept fact-checkers busy.

Republicans came together in Cleveland this week to nominate Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention (RNC), generating days of cringe-inducing falsehoods and misleading statements on crime, the nominee’s positions on gender equality, and LGBTQ people.

Trump’s Acceptance Speech Blasted for Making False Claims on Crime

Trump accepted the Republican nomination in a Thursday night speech at the RNC that drew harsh criticism for many of its misleading and outright false talking points.

Numerous fact-checkers took Trump to task, calling out many of his claims for being “wrong,” and “inflated or misleading.”

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 Among the most hotly contested of Trump’s claims was the assertion that crime has exploded across the country.

“Decades of progress made in bringing down crime are now being reversed by this administration’s rollback of criminal enforcement,” Trump claimed, according to his prepared remarks, which were leaked ahead of his address. “Homicides last year increased by 17 percent in America’s 50 largest cities. That’s the largest increase in 25 years. In our nation’s capital, killings have risen by 50 percent. They are up nearly 60 percent in nearby Baltimore.”

Crime rates overall have been steadily declining for years.

“In 2015, there was an uptick in homicides in 36 of the 50 largest cities compared to the previous years. The rate did, indeed, increase nearly 17 percent, and it was the worst annual change since 1990. The homicide rate was up 54.3 percent in Washington, and 58.5 percent in Baltimore,” explained Washington Post fact checkers Glenn Kessler and Michelle Ye Hee Lee. “But in the first months of 2016, homicide trends were about evenly split in the major cities. Out of 63 agencies reporting to the Major Cities Chiefs Association, 32 cities saw a decrease in homicides in first quarter 2016 and 31 saw an increase.”

Ames Grawert, a counsel in the Brennan Center’s Justice Program, said in a statement posted to the organization’s website that 2016 statistics aren’t sufficient in declaring crime rate trends. 

“Overall, crime rates remain at historic lows. Fear-inducing soundbites are counterproductive, and distract from nuanced, data-driven, and solution-oriented conversations on how to build a smarter criminal justice system in America,” Grawert said. “It’s true that some cities saw an increase in murder rates last year, and that can’t be ignored, but it’s too early to say if that’s part of a national trend.” 

When Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign chairman, was confronted with the common Republican falsehoods on crime during a Thursday interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, he claimed that the FBI’s statistics were not to be trusted given that the organization recently advised against charges in connection with Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state.

“According to FBI statistics, crime rates have been going down for decades,” Tapper told Manafort. “How can Republicans make the argument that it’s somehow more dangerous today when the facts don’t back that up?”

“People don’t feel safe in their neighborhoods,” said Manafort, going on to claim that “the FBI is certainly suspect these days after what they did with Hillary Clinton.”

There was at least one notable figure who wholeheartedly embraced Trump’s fearmongering: former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke. “Great Trump Speech,” tweeted Duke on Thursday evening. “Couldn’t have said it better!”

Ben Carson Claims Transgender People Are Proof of “How Absurd We Have Become”

Former Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson criticized the existence of transgender people while speaking at the Florida delegation breakfast on Tuesday in Cleveland.  

“You know, we look at this whole transgender thing, I’ve got to tell you: For thousands of years, mankind has known what a man is and what a woman is. And now, all of a sudden we don’t know anymore,” said Carson, a retired neurosurgeon. “Now, is that the height of absurdity? Because today you feel like a woman, even though everything about you genetically says that you’re a man or vice versa?”

“Wouldn’t that be the same as if you woke up tomorrow morning after seeing a movie about Afghanistan or reading some books and said, ‘You know what? I’m Afghanistan. Look, I know I don’t look that way. My ancestors came from Sweden, or something, I don’t know. But I really am. And if you say I’m not, you’re a racist,’” Carson said. “This is how absurd we have become.”

When confronted with his comments during an interview with Yahoo News’ Katie Couric, Carson doubled down on his claims.“There are biological markers that tell us whether we are a male or a female,” said Carson. “And just because you wake up one day and you say, ‘I think I’m the other one,’ that doesn’t change it. Just, a leopard can’t change its spots.”

“It’s not as if they woke up one day and decided, ‘I’m going to be a male or I’m going to be a female,’” Couric countered, pointing out that transgender people do not suddenly choose to change their gender identities on a whim.

Carson made several similar comments last year while on the campaign trail.

In December, Carson criticized the suggested that allowing transgender people into the military amounted to using the armed services “as a laboratory for social experimentation.”

Carson once suggested that allowing transgender people to use the restroom that aligned with their gender identity amounted to granting them “extra rights.”

Ivanka Trump Claims Her Father Supports Equal Pay, Access to Child Care

Ivanka Trump, the nominee’s daughter, made a pitch during her speech Thursday night at the RNC for why women voters should support her father.

“There have always been men of all background and ethnicities on my father’s job sites. And long before it was commonplace, you also saw women,” Ivanka Trump said. “At my father’s company, there are more female than male executives. Women are paid equally for the work that we do and when a woman becomes a mother, she is supported, not shut out.” 

“As president, my father will change the labor laws that were put into place at a time when women were not a significant portion of the workforce. And he will focus on making quality child care affordable and accessible for all,” she continued before pivoting to address the gender wage gap. 

“Policies that allow women with children to thrive should not be novelties; they should be the norm. Politicians talk about wage equality, but my father has made it a practice at his company throughout his entire career.”

However, Trump’s stated positions on the gender wage gap, pregnancy and mothers in the workplace, and child care don’t quite add up to the picture the Trumps tried to paint at the RNC.

In 2004, Trump called pregnancy an “inconvenience” for employers. When a lawyer asked for a break during a deposition in 2011 to pump breast milk, Trump reportedly called her “disgusting.”

According to a June analysis conducted by the Boston Globe, the Trump campaign found that men who worked on Trump’s campaign “made nearly $6,100, or about 35 percent more [than women during the April payroll]. The disparity is slightly greater than the gender pay gap nationally.”

A former organizer for Trump also filed a discrimination complaint in January, alleging that she was paid less than her male counterparts.

When Trump was questioned about equal pay during a campaign stop last October, he did not outline his support for policies to address the issue. Instead, Trump suggested that, “You’re gonna make the same if you do as good a job.” Though he had previously stated that men and women who do the same job should be paid the same during an August 2015 interview on MSNBC, he also cautioned that determining whether people were doing the same jobs was “tricky.”

Trump has been all but completely silent on child care so far on the campaign trail. In contrast, Clinton released an agenda in May to address the soaring costs of child care in the United States.

Ivanka’s claims were not the only attempt that night by Trump’s inner circle to explain why women voters should turn to the Republican ticket. During an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, Manafort said that women would vote for the Republican nominee because they “can’t afford their lives anymore.”

“Many women in this country feel they can’t afford their lives, their husbands can’t afford to be paying for the family bills,” claimed Manafort. “Hillary Clinton is guilty of being part of the establishment that created that problem. They’re going to hear the message. And as they hear the message, that’s how we are going to appeal to them.”

What Else We’re Reading

Vox’s Dara Lind explained how “Trump’s RNC speech turned his white supporters’ fear into a weapon.”

Now that Mike Pence is the Republican nominee for vice president, Indiana Republicans have faced “an intense, chaotic, awkward week of brazen lobbying at the breakfast buffet, in the hallways and on the elevators” at the convention as they grapple with who will run to replace the state’s governor, according to the New York Times.

“This is a party and a power structure that feels threatened with extinction, willing to do anything for survival,” wrote Rebecca Traister on Trump and the RNC for New York Magazine. “They may not love Trump, but he is leading them precisely because he embodies their grotesque dreams of the restoration of white, patriarchal power.”

Though Trump spent much of the primary season denouncing big money in politics, while at the RNC, he courted billionaires in hopes of having them donate to supporting super PACs.

Michael Kranish reported for the Washington Post that of the 2,472 delegates at the RNC, it is estimated that only 18 were Black.

Cosmopolitan highlighted nine of the most sexist things that could be found at the convention.

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) asked, “Where are these contributions that have been made” by people of color to civilization?

News Abortion

Study: United States a ‘Stark Outlier’ in Countries With Legal Abortion, Thanks to Hyde Amendment

Nicole Knight Shine

The study's lead author said the United States' public-funding restriction makes it a "stark outlier among countries where abortion is legal—especially among high-income nations."

The vast majority of countries pay for abortion care, making the United States a global outlier and putting it on par with the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan and a handful of Balkan States, a new study in the journal Contraception finds.

A team of researchers conducted two rounds of surveys between 2011 and 2014 in 80 countries where abortion care is legal. They found that 59 countries, or 74 percent of those surveyed, either fully or partially cover terminations using public funding. The United States was one of only ten countries that limits federal funding for abortion care to exceptional cases, such as rape, incest, or life endangerment.

Among the 40 “high-income” countries included in the survey, 31 provided full or partial funding for abortion care—something the United States does not do.

Dr. Daniel Grossman, lead author and director of Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) at the University of California (UC) San Francisco, said in a statement announcing the findings that this country’s public-funding restriction makes it a “stark outlier among countries where abortion is legal—especially among high-income nations.”

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The researchers call on policymakers to make affordable health care a priority.

The federal Hyde Amendment (first passed in 1976 and reauthorized every year thereafter) bans the use of federal dollars for abortion care, except for cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment. Seventeen states, as the researchers note, bridge this gap by spending state money on terminations for low-income residents. Of the 14.1 million women enrolled in Medicaid, fewer than half, or 6.7 million, live in states that cover abortion services with state funds.

This funding gap delays abortion care for some people with limited means, who need time to raise money for the procedure, researchers note.

As Jamila Taylor and Yamani Hernandez wrote last year for Rewire, “We have heard first-person accounts of low-income women selling their belongings, going hungry for weeks as they save up their grocery money, or risking eviction by using their rent money to pay for an abortion, because of the Hyde Amendment.”

Public insurance coverage of abortion remains controversial in the United States despite “evidence that cost may create a barrier to access,” the authors observe.

“Women in the US, including those with low incomes, should have access to the highest quality of care, including the full range of reproductive health services,” Grossman said in the statement. “This research indicates there is a global consensus that abortion care should be covered like other health care.”

Earlier research indicated that U.S. women attempting to self-induce abortion cited high cost as a reason.

The team of ANSIRH researchers and Ibis Reproductive Health uncovered a bit of good news, finding that some countries are loosening abortion laws and paying for the procedures.

“Uruguay, as well as Mexico City,” as co-author Kate Grindlay from Ibis Reproductive Health noted in a press release, “legalized abortion in the first trimester in the past decade, and in both cases the service is available free of charge in public hospitals or covered by national insurance.”