Our work paid off when the president signed a rock-solid executive order to do just that--clearly ban the use of federal funds for elective abortions in the new health care reform law.
Now, politically-motivated groups are making false claims that Pennsylvania's new high-risk insurance pool, which offers affordable health insurance to the people in our community who have been refused by private insurers because of a "pre-existing condition," will use federal funds for elective abortions.
That is simply untrue.
The nonpartisan, independent fact-checking organization PolitiFact rated this claim as FALSE.
— Canned response to constituent e-mails regarding federal abortion funding
EXCERPT FROM POLITIFACT'S CURSORY ASSESSMENT
Please Note: PolitiFact (nonpartisan, but hardly free from accusations of liberal bias) considered only the federal policy as it was reformulated AFTER National Right to Life exposed President Obama's agreement with Pennsylvania to fund ALL legal abortions.
Getting back to our rating: The National Right to Life Committee said the Obama administration will give Pennsylvania $160 million to pay for health insurance plans that cover 'any legal abortion.' If we had looked at this case before the Obama administration issued its statements, we might have been a little torn. While the Pennsylvania proposal referred to statutes about legal abortion, [that essentially authorize — and require — any doctor to declare any abortion as "necessary" and thus not "elective" before the abortion is provided] also said that 'elective abortions are not covered,' and that is potentially contradictory. (Emphasis added)
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EXCERPT FROM FACTCHECK.ORG'S IN-DEPTH ASSESSMENT
The claim that the new federal health care law will use taxpayer funds to pay for abortions through "high-risk pools" originated when the National Right to Life Committee issued a press release July 13. It said that Washington had approved a new insurance program that "will cover any abortion that is legal in Pennsylvania." Abortion foes also raised alarms about similar federally subsidized insurance pools being put together in New Mexico and Maryland.
At issue here are insurance policies to be made available under a newly launched, federally funded program that provides coverage for high-risk uninsured people who have been turned away by private carriers.
We can see what caused abortion opponents to be concerned. An official solicitation issued by the Pennsylvania Insurance Department specified that abortions "will" be covered if they are legal under Pennsylvania law. And according to news reports, a similar document in New Mexico listed "elective" abortions under "covered services."
FOOTNOTE: SEEING THOUGH THE SMOKE
It would be easy to miss the fact that Pennsylvania's official solicitation called for coverage of all state-legal abortions. The press release issued by the state insurance department on June 28, announcing the new program, made no mention of abortion at all. Intrepid readers could click through to find the official solicitation document describing the program more fully, but it contained phrasing the casual reader could interpret as restricting abortion coverage rather than permitting it.
At one point the document states: "Elective abortions are not covered" (page 14). But the term "elective" isn't defined, and so isn't very meaningful.
The operative language starts on page 12, where it says: "The benefit package will include the following core of specific services ..." followed by a long list that includes, on page 14, "only abortions and contraceptives that satisfy the requirements of 18 Pa.C.S. § 3204-3206 and 35 P.S. §§10101, 10103-10105." Those are the sections of Pennsylvania law that cover abortion. So — when all the verbal smoke is cleared away — the solicitation states that the program "will" cover "only" abortions that are legal. That doesn't leave out much.
The first section cited, for instance (Section 3204), allows abortions that a physician deems "necessary ... in the light of all factors (physical, emotional, psychological, familial and the woman's age) relevant to the well-being of the woman." The only abortions that the state law forbids a doctor from finding "necessary" are those "sought solely because of the sex of the unborn child."
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