The Big Lie — Abortion Rights Opponents Mislead on Stupak-Pitts
We know our opponents lie and mislead the public. They are doing a lot of that right now in trying to counter factual information coming from NOW and our allies about abortion restrictions in House health care reform legislation (H.R. 3692). Their tactic is to assure the public that the Stupak-Pitts Amendment will not have much of an effect on anyone’s insurance coverage for abortion care. This, of course, is far from the truth and activists need to make sure that women know that Stupak-Pitts is a serious threat to abortion access.
A form letter sent by MINNESOTA’S VERY OWN Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.) to a constituent implies that the Stupak-Pitts Amendment will not affect coverage that women pay for with private funds. The letter reads: “The Stupak-Pitts Amendment states that individuals buying insurance on the exchange may still purchase coverage that includes abortions as long as no federal money is used. It also says that insurers may still offer abortion coverage as long as such coverage, and the administrative structure behind it, is not supported by federal money….”
In fact, any and all health insurance plans offered through the newly created regional health exchanges will not be permitted to offer abortion coverage if there are any individuals in those plans who receive government “affordability credits.”
Some 36 million low- and moderate-income persons who currently are uninsured or underinsured will be seeking insurance through these exchanges — with many relying on government subsidies to help pay the premiums. Their huge presence will likely mean that nearly all insurance plans will serve people who receive government subsidies, meaning that they cannot offer abortion care coverage to any policyholders, even those who pay 100 percent of the premium with their own money.
Stupak-Pitts’ apologists say that each exchange will have at least one plan offering coverage. But the goal and the effect of this dangerous amendment is to dramatically restrict women’s access to abortion care. Abortion is one of the most common medical procedures and will be sought by a substantial number of women of child-bearing age. The Oberstar letter claims that those women who can’t obtain insurance coverage for abortion can buy a separate abortion rider. Please. How likely is that to happen? An independent check on the current availability of abortion riders in insurance found none.
The most likely scenario, should Stupak-Pitts become law, is that insurance companies would avoid the hassle of having audits of their plans and meeting other restrictive criteria by simply not offering coverage for abortion services altogether. A recently released study by the School of Public Health and Health Services at George Washington University concludes that insurance companies would have to re-design offerings in order to avoid violating abortion restrictions, and that would ultimately have a broad chilling effect, even for private, employer-based insurance.
Help spread the truth about the Stupak-Pitts Amendment, and call your senators right away to ensure that similar restrictions are not included in the Senate version of the health care reform bill. Senate contact information can be found online.
GW University Report (PDF)