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Abortion Provisions in House Health Bill

UPDATE 11/2/2009 – Edited to correct formatting error in Sec 258.

The US House has released HR 3962, its final version of a health care reform bill.

Despite what you may hear in the anti-reform press and blogosphere, this bill will not force abortions or abortion coverage on anyone. It won’t preempt existing state restrictions on abortion. In fact, there are explicit protections in the bill to prevent this. Here are the relevant provisions:

SEC. 258. APPLICATION OF STATE AND FEDERAL LAWS REGARDING ABORTION.

(a) No Preemption of State Laws Regarding Abortion- Nothing in this Act shall be construed to preempt or otherwise have any effect on State laws regarding the prohibition of (or requirement of) coverage, funding, or procedural requirements on abortions, including parental notification or consent for the performance of an abortion on a minor.

(b) No Effect on Federal Laws Regarding Abortion-

(1) IN GENERAL- Nothing in this Act shall be construed to have any effect on Federal laws regarding–

(A) conscience protection

(B) willingness or refusal to provide abortion; and

(C) discrimination on the basis of the willingness or refusal to provide, pay for, cover, or refer for abortion or to provide or participate in training to provide abortion.

(c) No Effect on Federal Civil Rights Law- Nothing in this section shall alter the rights and obligations of employees and employers under title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

SEC. 259. NONDISCRIMINATION ON ABORTION AND RESPECT FOR RIGHTS OF CONSCIENCE.

(a) Nondiscrimination- A Federal agency or program, and any State or local government that receives Federal financial assistance under this Act (or an amendment made by this Act), may not–

    (1) subject any individual or institutional health care entity to discrimination; or

    (2) require any health plan created or regulated under this Act (or an amendment made by this Act) to subject any individual or institutional health care entity to discrimination,

on the basis that the health care entity does not provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.

(b) Definition- In this section, the term ‘health care entity’ includes an individual physician or other health care professional, a hospital, a provider-sponsored organization, a health maintenance organization, a health insurance plan, or any other kind of health care facility, organization, or plan.

(c) Administration- The Office for Civil Rights of the Department of Health and Human Services is designated to receive complaints of discrimination based on this section, and coordinate the investigation of such complaints.

In the coming days I hope to find time to highlight what I think are some very helpful provisions in this bill. But I figured I’d start with the issue I figured would be first in line for the misinformation crowd.

7 Responses

  1. Nothing like using a primary source, AK Librarian! Thanks for highlighting this part first. You are right, this is the one most likely to be lied about.

  2. Hi HistoryGoddess

    If I’m not mistaken, this may be the first really big piece of social legislation that a majority of Americans have had the ability to see before getting passed into law. It makes me feel privileged to live in the current times. I wonder whether Social Security and/or Medicare would have been passed in their current from if the text of the those bills had been available to the public at large.

    It will be interesting to see how this new level of transparency affects things. I share your view that it is at least useful for combating propaganda and focusing the debate on what is being proposed.

  3. While people will not be FORCED to have plans that cover abortion….taxpayer money will be used to buy insurance plans that pay for elective abortions for any reason. That is a fact of the bill.

  4. I concede your point, but it doesn’t cancel the point of my post. Any suggestion that ALL plans must have abortion coverage or that abortion coverage is hard wired into the public option of this bill is false. At least for this version of the legislation.

    Actually, federal money is already indirectly paying for abortions through health coverage by the tax advantages given to companies that provide health coverage. Counting these indirect subsidies, I don’t see the House Health bill making the abortion situation worse.

  5. After checking the House bill, I withdraw my concurrence with your point. Sec 341(c)(3) forbids using taxpayer funds for abortion coverage.

    (3) PROHIBITION OF USE OF PUBLIC FUNDS FOR ABORTION COVERAGE- An affordability credit may not be used for payment for services described in section 222(d)(4)(A).

    If this doesn’t answer your concern, please let me know why, referencing a bill section or current law if you can.

  6. No bias on your part, of course.

  7. Hi Norma,

    Specifics, please. What am I being biased about? If it’s being biased about using the text of legislation than one’s worst fears, I plead guilty.

    If you can show me a specific provision in this bill whose plain language meaning is “You may pay for your abortion with public funds”, I will concede that is what the legislation says.

Comments are closed.

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