Will Health Care Reform Protect Your Reproductive Rights?

Well, many of us thought this day would never come: the House of Representatives is finally prepared to vote on the Affordable Health Care for America Act. It's hard to understate the historic nature of this particular vote. President Roosevelt — the first one, in 1912 — campaigned on a promise of health care reform, and nearly 100 years later, a comprehensive health reform bill has yet to make it to the floor for a vote.

If it comes to the floor for a vote — anti-choice lawmakers, led by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), are threatening to use procedural maneuvers to derail health care reform over abortion.

Pro-choice advocates had hoped beyond hope that abortion would be treated like any other health care service during health reform. Throughout their lives, women access a broad continuum of reproductive health care services, including contraceptive services, prenatal care, and abortion, and we asked for a principled approach to health care reform that would reflect that reality. But politics and ideology have made that impossible. Instead, lawmakers have crafted a compromise position, often referred to as the Capps Amendment, that would maintain the status quo and advance neither a pro- nor anti-choice agenda — and therefore convince enough anti-choice Democrats to vote for the bill to ensure its passage.

So, the wonky details: the Capps Amendment would prohibit abortion from being included in the basic, standard health benefit package that insurance companies would have to make available under health care reform, but would require that at least one plan in the Exchange cover abortion and that at least one not cover abortion. It would also mandate that plans that do cover abortion segregate their funds and ensure that only private premiums (and not federal dollars) are used to cover abortion. The public plan would cover abortion in the case of rape, or incest, or when a woman's life is threatened by a pregnancy (the status quo for public funding for abortion care), and the Secretary of Health and Human Services would be allowed to determine whether the public plan could cover abortion in additional circumstances. The pro-choice community has accepted this compromise even though it is hard to swallow; it is less than what women need and deserve.

But, the compromise is not enough for some anti-choice Democrats and Republicans. They want to use health care reform to impose unprecedented restrictions on women's access to abortion in the health care system. They wish to ban any plan that receives any federal dollars from covering abortion even though abortion funding would already come only from private funds under the current compromise. By attempting to ban plans from covering abortion, they intend to curtail access to abortion services even when a woman pays for her insurance with private funds and receives no federal subsidy. In other words, they want to take away women's access to health benefits they currently rely on.

Because the House leadership may not allow an amendment to further limit abortion access, anti-choice members have threatened to vote against the Rule that would bring health care reform to the House floor. The Rule is the language setting the grounds for debate on a bill; unless the Rule passes, the bill cannot be considered. Or if that doesn't work, they may offer a "motion to recommit" on abortion that, if passed, would prohibit insurance companies in the Exchange from providing abortion coverage even if they want to. They are contemplating hijacking a whole bill with so much at stake for so many people over a health care service that should be a private decision between a woman and her doctor. <really big sigh>

House Leadership has scheduled the health care reform vote for 6 p.m. on Saturday, November 7, but the debate might run into Sunday. So, we have until then to tell the House to support the Rule and oppose any and all attacks on reproductive rights in the health care reform bill. Please go to our Action Center, and call your Representative now.

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I don't believe that this is going to be affordable health coverage. I don't want taxpayers to pay for abortions. It seems to me that with all your talk about death penalty, torture etc this goes against what you supposedly stand for? It is taking a life no matter what form. If I have learned anything from the ACLU it is that life no matter what form is precious and should be treated with dignity. ACLU you have turned me from pro choice to pro life and I am very greatful. Thanks

j k

A fetus is not a person child until it takes it's first breath and is disconnected from the mother! Get it? You may want to re-read a biology text. Abortion is a medical procedure, same as a vasectomy, a mastectomy, etc. It is the mother's life and choice, and is a decision between her and her doctor. That is the freedom that the ACLU stands for.


If leaving abortion funding out of the bill will help it become law, that's a sacrifice that I'd be willing to make. First trimester abortions are relatively affordable procedures, equal to less than what my family would have to pay in a single monthly premium to a private insurer for basic health insurance. We need to keep our priorities straight.

s c

@ Maggie, apparently you don't understand what the ACLU stands for. We want to protect the right of a woman to choose whether or not she is going to carry her pregnancy to term, and agree with the SCOTUS that each individual has a constitutional right to privacy and bodily soverignty. We do not believe that the government should have the power to force their morality on women and teenage girls by forcing them to give birth against their will. These are the freedoms that the ACLU stands up for. We do not believe that embryos and fetuses are constitutional equivalents of human beings that are independent and can survive outside of another's body. The Supreme Court has agreed with us on many occasions.


This is why compromising to these anti-choice folks and Republicans in general is absolutely pointless. They're ideologues, thus no compromise is good enough unless they get absolutely everything they want. Obama should save the compromising for the adults.

It's rather sickening that, time and again, women are treated as subhuman to a fetus that can't survive on its own, even ones without a nervous system! The anti-choicers give a heck of a lot more focus on fetuses than the women and girls who die resulting from no access to abortion and birth control. We just simply aren't seen as humans by these people, but mere incubators meant to serve a man and pop out babies.

The anti-choicer silence and opposition to anything to help parents bespeaks their actual reasons against abortion: hatred and fear of female sexuality and any sex outside of patriarchal marriage.


Murderers, sick and twisted killers is what you are if you support abortion. Get it? Maybe you should read a Bible.


Anonymous if you had read the Gospels for a change instead of sticking to Leviticous you would hace known that Jesus respected women and had no patience for the self riteous.


Women and men need to step up and take responsibility for their actions. Where ever life begins there are certainly a lot of methods to prevent it. But I suppose that would be to easy. Where would the ACLU stand if the government forced women and girls to have abortions? That is right they have a choice. But reading the ACLU comments on the death penalty and torture it has truly turned my thinking around. Sorry but you have lost 1 pro choice person.

JLW Fredericksb...

I am Pro Choice. I believe we should always choose to do what is right.

I guess what I can not understand is how women would freely allow her unborn child to be murdered. The fact that it is legal (if the mother does it) does not concern me as much as the fact that any women would choose to allow her unborn child to be killed. Everything about that screams Wrong, Wrong Wrong.

Many things have been and are legal in many societies. That is not the standard of what is right or wrong. There is a much deeper sickness here.

Lets make our freedom of choice a choice to do what’s right before we have intercourse and if we make a mistake or make the wrong choice lets have enough moral guts to step up to the plate and make the right choice.

Abortion is serious. We use it as a form of birth control and convenience so we won’t be inconvenienced. Please don’t tell me about rape or incest. I know the statistics (very few) and it’s not the baby’s fault.

Have enough respect for my beliefs to understand that I do not want my taxes to pay for abortion.

I don’t know much about the ACLU but the title of this blog would cause me to belive that they have an agenda and are not above slanting things in their favor. ie Reproductive Rights? Oh come on give us a break. If you were for “Reproduction Rights” you would be Pro Choice, Pro Reproduction. Hey, that’s got a ring to it.


i am against war and torture. where is my right to segregate my funds?? currently 50% of my tax dollars goes to support war in foreign countries that i do not support. i do NOT want my tax funds going toward wars. Please RESPECT my moral beliefs.


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