Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Abortion and the Stupak amendment, cont'd.

Ed Rendell on the Rachel Maddow Show
Ed Rendell on the Rachel Maddow Show

An amendment to the House health care bill continues to inspire political passions, driving a wedge between abortion-rights supporters who are outraged at what they consider a major loss for women's rights, and Democratic lawmakers who fear seeing their long-awaited health care reform effort stalled due to the debate.

The amendment -- a last-minute addition that passed, 240-194, with support from Republicans and antiabortion Democrats -- establishes restrictions on how abortion can be covered under the health care bill's insurance "exchanges." These exchanges are designed to help people buy coverage if they are not currently insured, or if they work for businesses that are too small to feasibly offer health coverage to their employees.

Essentially, the Stupak-Pitts amendment bars abortion coverage for those who choose the "public option," which is the House bill's federally administered, but privately funded, insurance plan. (Cases of rape, incest or life of the mother are exempted.) The amendment also prevents anyone who accepts federal subsidies for health coverage from purchasing a plan with abortion coverage on the exchange.

However, the amendment does allow people in the exchange to choose a plan with abortion coverage if they pay for it without using federal subsidies. And those who accept subsidies can still purchase an abortion "rider" -- that is, a separate policy covering abortion -- as long as they pay for it entirely with their own money.

But in a Nov. 12 appearance on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show , Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, a Democrat, added a new layer of concern for abortion-rights advocates. Rendell said that in addition to erecting hurdles for individuals who receive federal subsidies, the amendment would also make it harder to secure abortion coverage if you happen to work for a company that gets federal subsidies.

"Take a small business that's receiving a tax credit, a federal tax credit, to provide health care for its employees," Rendell said. "They would be barred under the Stupak Amendment from allowing their employees to use their -- the health care that they offer them for abortion. They would be absolutely disallowed from doing that."

We checked his claim and rated it Barely True .