Health Care and Abortion Coverage
President Obama signed the health care reform bill into law today. The first changes under the overhaul are set to take effect at the end of September, while others will not happen until 2014. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says he has the votes to pass the package of changes from the House through the reconciliation process, which requires a simple majority. Senate Republicans, however, are planning to introduce dozens of amendments in an attempt to stall passage or change the legislation.
Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna’s decision to join a multi-state lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the health care reform package has angered Gov. Chris Gregoire and other Democratic leaders.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the Nelson “compromise,” which puts severe restrictions on health insurance plans that cover abortion care, could result in fewer plans covering abortion.
RH Reality Check’s Jodi Jacobson looks at the wins and losses for women in the health care reform legislation signed by President Obama today.
Politico reports that the controversy over abortion coverage during the long health care reform debate has put the issue of abortion back in the political spotlight. Looking to the upcoming elections, NARAL Pro-Choice America president Nancy Keenan said, “We absolutely will be taking a look at those anti-abortion lawmakers, and if we can, we will take a run at them.” Interestingly, anti-choice groups are also targeting representatives like Bart Stupak, believing they were not firm enough in insisting on a ban on abortion coverage.
During an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus said that she wanted to find ways to expand access to abortion care even under the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funding for abortion care except under very limited circumstances, but acknowledged that more pro-choice votes are needed. She also said that President Obama made sure not to codify the Hyde Amendment with his executive order.
Frances Kissling, former president of Catholics for a Free Choice, writes on Salon that the next step after passage of the health care reform package is the repeal of the Hyde Amendment.
The Washington Post reports that the renewed push to repeal the Hyde Amendment faces some “high hurdles.”
The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to a Massachusetts law that establishes a protest-free zone around abortion clinic entrances and driveways.
The Kansas House has granted preliminary approval to a bill that would eliminate mental health as a reason for obtaining a late term abortion.
Other Noteworthy News
The Nation’s Katha Pollitt enumerates a list of legislative agenda items she feels is owed to the women’s community after suffering a setback on access to abortion care in the health care reform deal.