Friday, September 11, 2009

Abortion Rights In Hillary's 1993 Public Plan, But NOT In Obama's 2009 Plan

In his speech on health care reform, President Obama effectively threw women's reproductive rights under the bus when he indicated his support for the Hyde Amendment. That 1976 law forbids women from accessing their legal right to abortion through Medicaid and all other federally funded programs (see highlighted section below).

The Democratic President made it clear that the question of including the full range of reproductive rights for women is not up for discussion when he affirmed Hyde by asserting that "no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions" under his health care plan.

Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, responds:

"It is lamentable that during a major speech on healthcare reform, the President chose to reinforce a longstanding barrier to women's ability to obtain abortion. For years, the federal government has prohibited federal funds from being used to pay for abortion except under extremely narrow circumstances -- even when a woman's health is jeopardized by her pregnancy. The effect has been millions of women, including those living below the poverty line, military personnel and their dependents, women served by the Indian Health Service, Peace Corps volunteers, and federal employees and their dependents who rely solely on these programs for their medical care are deprived of their right to safe, legal abortion.

"Reproductive health, including decisions about whether or not to have children, cut to the core of a woman's daily reality as well as her well-being. The fact that the President can set out to have a comprehensive discussion of healthcare needs, but end up relegating an essential medical service, only used by women, to an outlier status, is disappointing to say the least. This was a missed opportunity to re-examine the meaning of access to a full range of choices in healthcare for women.

"Abortion is the most common surgical procedure in the United States and one in three women will have one in their lifetimes. Private insurers appreciate that protecting women's health means providing women access to the full range of reproductive health services and a majority offer abortion coverage.

Candidate Obama Opposed the Hyde Amendment

As has so often been the case with this Democratic president, the position espoused when he was a candidate is the polar opposite of the position espoused now that he is president. In a questionniare from RH Reality Check, candidate Obama's campaign staff clearly stated that Obama opposed the Hyde Amendment.

Candidate Obama opposed the denial of federally funded abortion services:

Does Sen. Obama support the Hyde amendment? Under what circumstances does he believe that Medicaid should cover abortions (all pregnancies, life- or health-threatening pregnancies, pregnancies that are a result of rape or incest, extreme fetal malformation)?

Obama does not support the Hyde amendment. He believes that the federal government should not use its dollars to intrude on a poor woman's decision whether to carry to term or to terminate her pregnancy and selectively withhold benefits because she seeks to exercise her right of reproductive choice in a manner the government disfavors.

Hillary Rodham Clinton's Public Health Care Plan

Even way back in the year of 1993, Hillary had a more progressive policy in her health care plan:

In 1993, however, Hillary Clinton was clear that public health insurance should cover abortion -- despite Hyde. "It will include pregnancy-related services, and that will include abortion as insurance policies currently do,” she told the Senate Finance Committee that September.