We know that the House healthcare reform bill passed after an eleventh-hour compromise (you might say betrayal) on abortion access. We know the compromise, the Stupak-Pitts amendment, is bad. But do we know exactly how it’s bad for women (and their partners)? Here’s a quick primer on what the amendment actually means for any woman accessing healthcare through the newly-created health insurance exchange.
Over the summer, legislators struck an agreement on abortion funding in which private plans offered through the health insurance exchange couldn’t use federal dollars to cover abortion care. They could, however, cover abortion care with funds from individuals’ premiums, and the agreement, the Capps Amendment, required at least one plan in every region to offer abortion care, and at least one not to. As many observers predicted, the Capps Amendment didn’t mollify anti-abortion crusaders, namely the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, which commands an outsize role in the debate over healthcare reform.
So what we ended up with was drastically worse. After the initial compromise fell apart, Rep. Bart Stupak introduced the eponymous amendment, under which any plan purchased with any federal subsidy cannot cover abortion services–even with private funds. Plus, the public plan won’t cover abortion care. While plans participating in the health insurance exchange are legally permitted to offer a version of the plan that does cover abortion–enrollment limited to those who pay for the entire plan without any subsidy–it’s unlikely plans will go the extra mile to offer that coverage, Planned Parenthood’s Laurie Rubiner said this morning on the Brian Lehrer Show. That would be "awfully complex," Rubiner explained. Because the majority of Americans purchasing insurance through the exchange would be using affordability credits, the plan without abortion coverage will become the "standard plan." Rubiner also cited privacy concerns over purchasing abortion-inclusive coverage. The Wall Street Journal observed, "Insurers may be reluctant to [set up abortion-inclusive plans] because it could complicate how they pool risk and force them to label policies in a way that could draw attention from abortion opponents."