Are Abortions covered?

The Obama health law says that federally subsidized health plans can offer abortion coverage, but must set up separate accounts to segregate federal funds from money used for abortions.

Before the law was enacted, Congressman Joe Pitts (Pennsylvania Republican) and Congressman Bart Stupak (Michigan Democrat) called segregating funds “an accounting gimmick” and proposed an amendment to ban abortions in all federally subsidized health plans.

The Senate majority resisted the amendment, and the president succeeded in getting the health law passed without it.  Instead, Obama issued an Executive Order reaffirming the Hyde Amendment (named after the late Representative Henry Hyde (Illinois Republican)), a 1976 provision, that bans federal funds for abortions except in the case of rape, incest, or to protect the life of the mother.

Executive Orders depend on the whims of the president, and they can be changed at any time, or, at least, pro-life advocates argue.  In October 2011, pro-life lawmakers tried again for a statute to bar a health plan from offering abortion coverage if any enrollees receive federal subsidies. It passed the House 251-172 but was not taken up in the Senate.

In conclusion, whether abortions are funded through federal programs such as community health centers will depend on the discretion of the President and the Secretary of Health and Human Services, because the new law does not address the issue.

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