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Battle Over Abortion in Health Care Bill is Now in Senate

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Pro-choice activists are fighting tooth and nail to keep the House of Representatives’ Stupak-Pitts amendment out of the Senate version of the health care bill. Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women or NOW, told Women’s eNews “We’re working our hearts out to stop Stupak-Pitts.”

According to Women’s eNews correspondent, Julia Marsh, this amendment infringes on abortion in three ways: it prevents any type of government plan from offering abortion coverage, even in those circumstances where the woman is able to pay for the services; it forbids anyone who participates in a proposed health insurance exchange from receiving abortion coverage, if the participants also receive government subsidies that are available to those who are of low income; it requires private insurance companies that are involved in the exchange to only provide abortion as supplementary coverage.

The George Washington University’s School of Public Health has said that the result of the Stupak-Pitts amendment would mean “a new norm of exclusion” of any abortion coverage.

Pro-choice activists want the senators to accept a compromise on abortion named after Rep. Lois Capps, D-California, and not the one that is similar to Stupak-Pitts. The Capps amendment would allow a ban on federal funding for abortion, with the exception of cases of rape, incest or in order to save the mother’s life. The main difference between the two amendments is that the Capps one allows insurance companies in the exchange, and it would allow the government to pay for abortions if women pay for the service through their premiums.

Marsh maintains that the Stupak-Pitts amendment is very much viewed as the biggest infringement on access to abortion since the days before abortion became legal. We are talking about the days before January 22, 1973. Those were the days when the Supreme Court justices had not decided to make abortion legal, which they eventually did so in their Roe v. Wade ruling when they said that a woman had a constitutional right to privacy.

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