The House of Representatives voted yesterday to pass its health care reform bill (HR 3962) only after approving an amendment introduced by Rep. Bart Stupak that would prohibit any plan purchased with any federal subsidy from covering abortion services–even with private funds.

Stupak argues that women with subsidized insurance policies could buy separate abortion-only “riders” with their own money much like they might purchase a dental or vision rider. The problem here, as my colleague Emily Douglas points out, is that “such an abortion rider doesn’t exist now, and the legislation does not provide for its creation.”

Moreover, even if new legislation is written, the result would be the essential equivalent of a ban on abortion coverage because most women are unlikely to buy additional coverage for something they don’t expect to ever need. In other words, women would have to plan in advance in the event they need an abortion despite the fact that abortion is a legal medical procedure for women concerned with unplanned pregnancies.

Read Douglas’ post for a thorough unpacking of what the Stupak-Pitts Amendment actually means for any woman accessing healthcare through health insurance exchanges.

The bottom-line is that Stupak’s amendment goes much further than current law in restricting access to abortion. If the amendment becomes law, women would lose health benefits they have today. This violates the spirit of health care reform, which is meant to guarantee quality, affordable health care coverage for everyone, and the letter of Candidate Obama’s promises on the campaign trail. Act today to turn back this assault on women’s health care rights and urge your Senators to oppose any such restrictions in their version of the bill.


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