GOP Leader Juggles Misinformation And Lies In Message To Public On Abortion Language In Senate Bill

November 20, 2009 10:37 am ET

In an online post and email, the office of House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) grossly misinforms and flat out lies about the abortion language in the new Senate health care bill.  Unfortunately for the Republicans, the facts are against them.

House GOP Lies About HHS Secretary's Jurisdiction Over Abortion Coverage Changes

House Republican Leader Blog: "Beginning on line 7, p. 118, section 1303 under 'Voluntary Choice of Coverage of Abortion Services' the Health and Human Services Secretary is given the authority to determine when abortion is allowed under the government-run health plan.  Leader Reid's plan also requires that at least one insurance plan offered in the Exchange covers abortions (line 13, p. 120)." [RepublicanLeader.House.gov, 11/19/09]

The Bill Clearly States The HHS Secretary Cannot Allow Federal Funds To Pay For Abortions.  Page 118, Lines 4-25 through Page 119, Lines 1-8 reads:

(C) PROHIBITION ON FEDERAL FUNDS FOR ABORTION SERVICES IN COMMUNITY HEALTH INSURANCE OPTION -

(i) Determination by Secretary. - The Secretary may not determine, in accordance with subparagraph (A)(ii), that the community health insurance option established under section 1323 shall provide coverage of services described in subparagraph (B)(i) as part of benefits for the plan year unless the Secretary - (I) assures compliance with the requirements of paragraph (2); (II) assures, in accordance with applicable provisions of generally accepted accounting requirements, circulars on funds management of the Office of Management and Budget, and guidance on accounting of the Government Accountability Office, that no Federal funds are used for such coverage; and (III) notwithstanding section 1323(e)(1)(C) or any other provision of this title, takes all necessary steps to assure that the United States does not bear the insurance risk for a community health insurance option's coverage of services described in subparagraph (B)(i). [Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, accessed 11/19/09]

Outside Groups Acknowledge That Bill Does Not Allow Federal Funds To Go Towards Abortions.  Jodi Jacobson, Senior Political Editor of Reproductive Health Reality Check, wrote of the Senate bill's abortion provisions:

No Federal Funds for Abortion Coverage in the Community Health Insurance Option:  If the Secretary chooses to cover abortion services in the public plan beyond those allowed by Hyde, he/she must:

  • Guarantee compliance with the provision prohibiting the use of Federal funds to pay for abortions (beyond those allowed by Hyde);
  • Guarantee that, according to three different accounting standards, no Federal funds will be used; and
  • Take all necessary steps to ensure that the United States does not bear the insurance risk for abortions that do not meet the Hyde exceptions in the public plan. [RHRealityCheck.org, 11/19/09]

61% Of Americans Think The Phrase "Government Money Would Be Used To Pay For Abortions" Is A Scare Tactic.  During a Bloomberg poll (of 1,004 Americans and with a margin of error of 3.1) conducted from September 10-14, 2009, in response to being asked if they thought the argument "Government money would be used to pay for abortions" was a legitimate issue, a distortion, or a scare tactic, 33% said it was legitimate, 6% were unsure, and 61% of Americans said the argument was a scare tactic.  [Bloomberg Poll via PollingReport.com, accessed 9/28/09]

House GOP Lies About Abortion "Mandate" Language In Senate Bill

House Republican Leader Blog:

What is even more alarming is that a monthly abortion premium will be charged of all enrollees in the government-run health plan.  It's right there beginning on line 11, page 122, section 1303, under 'Actuarial Value of Optional Service Coverage.'  The premium will be paid into a U.S. Treasury account - and these federal funds will be used to pay for the abortion services.

Section 1303(a)(2)(C) describes the process in which the Health Benefits Commissioner is to assess the monthly premiums that will be used to pay for elective abortions under the government-run health plan and for those who are given an affordability credit to purchase insurance coverage that includes abortion through the Exchange.  The Commissioner must charge at a minimum $1 per enrollee per month. [RepublicanLeader.House.gov, 11/19/09]

"Abortion Cannot Be A Mandated Benefit As Part Of A Minimum Benefits Package."  Jodi Jacobson, Senior Political Editor of Reproductive Health Reality Check, wrote of the Senate bill's abortion provisions: "Abortion cannot be a mandated benefit as part of a minimum benefits package. A qualified health plan would determine whether it will cover: a) no abortions only those abortions allowed under Hyde (rape, incest and life endangerment) or b) abortions beyond those allowed by Hyde." [RHRealityCheck.org, 11/19/09]

This is what the Senate bill's language actually says in Section 1303:

[Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, accessed 11/19/09]

House GOP Misleads On The American Public's Stance On Abortion

House Republican Leader Blog: "A majority of Americans believe that health care plans should not be mandated to provide elective abortion coverage, and a majority of Americans do not believe government health care plans should include abortion coverage." [RepublicanLeader.House.gov, 11/19/09]

A Majority Of Americans Support Some Sort Of Abortion Coverage. The Mellman Group found that 66% of Americans support covering abortion under reform measures and 72% "would feel angry if Congress mandated by law that abortion would not be covered under a national health care plan." [Mellman Group Poll via the National Women's Law Center, 7/6/09]

82% Of Americans Support Abortion In At Least Some Cases.  During an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll conducted October 22-25, 2009, to the following statement - "Which of the following best represents your views about abortion? The choice on abortion should be left up to the woman and her doctor. Abortion should be legal only in cases in which pregnancy results from rape or incest or when the life of the woman is at risk. OR, Abortion should be illegal in all circumstances" - respondents answered:

          Woman and Doctor: 51%
          Rape, Incest, Life of Woman: 31%
          Always Illegal: 15%
          Unsure: 3%

[NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll, 10/22-25/09, via PollingReport.com]

Don't forget, until recently, the RNC used donations to purchase insurance coverage for employees that covered abortion.

GOP Has Just Recently Paid Attention To Its Own Funding Of Abortion.  According to Politico: "Federal Election Commission Records show the RNC purchases its insurance from Cigna, and two sales agents for the company said that the RNC's policy covers elective abortion. As of Thursday, the RNC's plan covers elective abortion - a procedure the party's own platform calls 'a fundamental assault on innocent human life.'" [Politico, 11/13/09]

The House GOP Also Neglects To Mention The Conscience Protections In The Legislation

Senate Bill Includes Specific Language Protecting Americans' Moral Stance On Abortion.  Page 123, Lines 9-15 reads:  "(3) Provider Conscience Protections. - No individual health care provider or health care facility may be discriminated against because of a willingness or an unwillingness, if doing so is contrary to the religious or moral beliefs of the provider or facility, to provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions." 

[Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, accessed 11/19/09]

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