Abortion and Health Care Reform: Latest Developments
I don’t have much time to blog today but I wanted to note an interesting development in the ongoing Congressional debate about abortion in health care reform. The New York Times reports today that Rep. Brad Ellswirth (D-IN) is planning to offer an amendment to the House bill that would modify its treatment of abortion.
According to Ellsworth’s web site, his amendment:
- Explicitly prevents all federal tax dollars from being used to provide abortions in the public option;
- Prohibits any funds from the US Treasury from paying for abortion services in any of the plans purchased through the proposed Health Insurance Exchange-private or public;
- Establishes clear, strict rules for separating public funds from the premiums of private individuals (ensuring that no public funds are ever used to pay for an abortion in any health plan offered on the Health Insurance Exchange);
- Guarantees every American participating in the Health Insurance Exchange will always have access to a pro-life insurance option;
- Expands conscience protections to prevent the government from discriminating against pro-life health insurance plans
Although Ellsworth has a very strong pro-life record, the NRTL’s Doug Johnson was fairly scathing in his reaction, saying “when you’re going into battle, it is always unpleasant to be bayoneted in the back by somebody who said that he was on your side…The Ellsworth language serves no purpose except to assist the pro-abortion House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, to peel votes away from the authentic pro-life amendment, the Stupak amendment.”
The Congressional Quarterly coverage is depicting this as a split in the ranks of pro-life Democrats, many of whom had previously been supportive of the Stupak amendment. From other coverage I’ve read today (getting too tired to link to all of it) it does appear that Ellsworth has the support of the Democratic leadership to offer the amendment. I think Doug Johnson may be right that they are hoping to peel off enough pro-life Democrats so that Stupak will not be able to muster the votes he needs to block consideration of the bill if he is not allowed to offer his own amendment.
Since I have not yet seen the actual legislative language, I’m afraid I don’t have a lot of substantive analysis to offer at this point.