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Angie Drobnic Holan
By Angie Drobnic Holan November 4, 2009

The public option could pay for unsubsidized abortion

A few months ago, a chain e-mail purporting to be a line-by-line analysis of the House health care reform bill reached in-boxes all over the country, warning people of the dire consequences of the Democratic plans for reform. Taking a page from the same playbook, the House Republican Conference has created a similar list for the new health care bill that will be coming to the House floor in the next few weeks.

You can read our fact-check of the Republican analysis in its entirety. Here, we're looking only at the statement, "Page 110 - Section 222(e) requires the use of federal dollars to fund abortions through the government-run health plan."

We should emphasize that the House bill has yet to be voted on, and Democratic leaders have said they might consider new language on how the bill handles abortion. The Senate is expected to consider its own bill with details that diverge somewhat from the House.

The latest version of the House bill incorporates an amendment proposed by Rep. Lois Capps, a Democrat from California. Her proposal sought to create a compromise on abortion, especially in regards to the public option, a basic insurance plan run by the government and offered as a choice on the health insurance exchange.

The public option could offer abortion services, but if it does, those services would be paid for with segregated patient premiums, not public subsidies. We looked at the Capps amendment is some detail previously. We concluded that the Capps amendment would stop tax dollars from subsidizing abortion.

The sticking point in the new Republican claim, though, is the term "federal dollars."

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If you consider federal dollars to be tax revenues, then the public option would not pay for abortion, because patient premiums will pay for abortion.

On the other hand, if you consider "federal dollars" to be any money handled by a federal agency, then the public option would pay for abortion.

We've concluded before that if millions of uninsured people would now get insurance due to the health care plan, and some of the plans offer abortion coverage, we think it's fair to conclude that means more women would have access to abortion services. Our previous coverage has more detail on abortion and health care reform , and how it has been handled in the Senate.

The House Republican Conference said that health reform "requires the use of federal dollars to fund abortions through the government-run health plan." We find this depends on how a person defines the somewhat vague term "federal dollars." We rate the statement Half True.

Our Sources

House Republican Conference, Reading Guide - Pelosi Health "Reform" Bill , Oct. 29, 2009

U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee, HR 3962 - the Affordable Health Care For America Act

U.S. House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee, HR 3962 - Section by Section

Kaiser Family Foundation, Analysis of Affordable Health Care for America Act (H.R. 3962) , accessed Nov. 4, 2009

U.S. House of Representatives, Energy and Commerce Committee, the Capps amendment, original version , July 30, 2009

Interview with Douglas Johnson of National Right to Life

Interview with Donna Crane, policy director for NARAL Pro-Choice America

Additional sources can be found by clicking through the links to previous PolitiFact coverage

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The public option could pay for unsubsidized abortion

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