Nov. 7, 2009 - Statement by Cecil Richards, President, Planned Parenthood of America, regarding Representative Bart Stupak's amendment restricting women's health care access:
"Planned Parenthood strongly opposes the Stupak/Pitts amendment which would result in women losing health benefits they have today. This amendment would violate the spirit of health care reform, which is meant to guarantee quality, affordable health care coverage for all, by creating a two-tiered system that would punish women, particularly those with low and modest incomes. Women won't stand for legislation that takes away their current benefits and leaves them worse off after health care reform than they are today.
"While Rep. Stupak claims that his amendment simply applies the Hyde amendment to health reform, nothing could be farther from the truth. The Stupak/Pitts amendment would result in a new restriction on women's access to abortion coverage in the private health insurance market, undermining the ability of women to purchase private health plans that covers abortion, even if they pay for most of the premium with their own money.
"The fact is, the majority of private health insurance plans currently offer abortion coverage, and the Stupak/Pitts Amendment would result in the elimination of abortion coverage in the new insurance market created under health care reform. The Stupak/Pitts amendment upends the carefully crafted compromise in the House bill and unambiguously restricts women's access to care."
"Rep. Stupak's amendment would dramatically shift current federal policy related to abortion coverage and would undermine the principle of abortion neutrality in health care reform. A vote for Rep. Stupak's amendment is a vote to weaken women's access to comprehensive reproductive care and to take away private benefits that women currently have.
"Rep. Stupak's proposal to codify the Hyde amendment in health care reform would force women who want comprehensive reproductive health care coverage to purchase a separate, single-service rider. Such an ‘abortion rider,' whereby abortion care could only be covered by a single-service plan in the exchange, is discriminatory and illogical. Women do not plan to have unintended pregnancies or medically complicated pregnancies that require ending the pregnancy. In fact, about half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended, and abortion is not something that women plan to insure against. As a result, an ‘abortion rider' policy is unworkable. Women would not choose to purchase it, and would subsequently be unable to obtain the care they need. Proposing a separate ‘abortion rider' represents exactly the type of government interference in the health care marketplace that conservatives purport to vehemently oppose.
"As a health care provider, Planned Parenthood would very much like to see health care reform passed. But the Stupak/Pitts amendment would put women's health in jeopardy and undermine real health reform."
BACKGROUND on STUPAK/PITTS AMENDMENT:
The Stupak/Pitts amendment would:
*Prohibit individuals who receive the affordability tax credits from purchasing a private insurance plan that covers abortion, despite the fact that a majority of health insurance plans currently cover abortion.
*Result in a de facto ban on private insurance companies providing abortion coverage in the health insurance exchange, since the vast majority of participants would receive affordability tax credits.
*Prohibit the public option from providing abortion care, despite the fact that it would be funded through private premium dollars.
The current compromise in the bill already strikes the right balance between pro-choice and anti-choice interests.
-It stipulates that health plans cannot be mandated to cover abortion, but they can choose to.
-If a plan chooses to cover abortion, the compromise stipulates that no federal funds can go towards abortion, consistent with current federal policy.
-It ensures state laws regarding abortion coverage are not pre-empted, so if states want to pass further restrictions on abortion coverage, they can. This a significant win for anti-choice organizations.
-Protects conscience rights of health care providers and facilities.
LEADING EDITORIALS HAVE OPPOSED THE STUPAK/PITTS AMENDMENT AND SIMILAR PROPOSALS:
An editorial in USA Today (11/2/09):
"[The Stupak amendment] goes too far. It would mark a broad new expansion in the effort to restrict access to abortion. Nearly 90% of private health insurance policies now offer abortion coverage, and almost half of women with private insurance have it. But women covered under the new system would have to find supplemental insurance or pay out of pocket for an unanticipated procedure that can cost from hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on complexity. For anyone unable to afford it, this would amount to a de facto ban."
An editorial in the New York Times said (10/1/09):
"Conservative critics of pending reform bills want to prohibit the use of tax subsidies to buy any health insurance policy that covers abortion. Some want to require women to buy an extra insurance "rider" if they want abortion coverage, an unworkable approach given that almost no one expects to need an abortion, few women would buy the rider and, therefore, few insurance companies would even offer it."
An editorial in the LA Times said (11/6/09):
"The real goal of abortion opponents isn't to maintain the status quo. It's to extend federal prohibitions into private pocketbooks. By restricting coverage offered through the exchange, they hope to make abortion coverage so unattractive that insurers eventually stop offering it in the market for individual and small-group policies."
An editorial in The St. Petersburg Times said (11/5/09):
"Contrary to the claims of Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., who has been leading the antiabortion effort, the Capps amendment would not expand federal funding for abortion. Instead it would establish some basic principles to reflect the current health insurance landscape in which nearly 90 percent of private plans offer abortion coverage."
Ellen Goodman's column in the Boston Globe said (10/2/09):
"We now have pro-life Republicans and Democrats -- most notably Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan -- demanding that any health plan offering abortion be banned from the newly created health-care exchange. And guess what that will mean? More than 80 percent of private insurance plans cover abortions. But any insurance plan that wants to be eligible for the huge wave of new clients would have to drop the abortion coverage it offers."
Help us bring you more news. Be a real reader:
By submitting a comment you consent to our rules. You must use your real first and last name, not a nickname or alias. A comment here is just like a letter to the editor or a post on Facebook. Thank you.