WASHINGTON – A progressive think tank based in Washington is claiming that the hotly debated health care reform plan would reduce the number of abortions in America.
Over two million women who are in need of access to contraception but are not insured or covered by Medicaid would receive this coverage through the health care bill, highlighted Rachel Laser, culture program director at Third Way.
She also noted how many uninsured women might decide to keep their baby if they had health coverage that would ease the cost of pregnancy and early childhood.
Fifty-seven percent of abortions, Laser pointed out, are preformed on women who live at or below 200 percent of the poverty line.
"Prevention and support are keys to reducing abortions," wrote Laser in a column posted in The Huffington Post. "Thus, the overall effect of this reform package, with increased prevention and support services, will likely be to reduce abortions."
Laser, who was once the general counsel for Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington but has since worked with evangelicals to find common ground on the abortion issue, argues that there is "no reason" to believe insurance coverage of abortion will result in significant increase in the number of women who decide to have the procedure.
Conservatives, however, believe the current health care bill has loopholes that will fund abortion without explicitly mentioning the procedure. Despite reassurances from President Obama, White House officials, and many Democratic leaders that the health care bill will not pay for abortions with federal tax dollars, pro-life groups maintain that a growing number of independent fact check reports have concluded that the current bill's federal plan would cover all abortions.
People with low to moderate income can qualify for federal subsidies to purchase both the public and private plans that cover abortion, reported Brooks Jackson, director of Factcheck.org, a project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania.
Laser, while acknowledging this fact, argued that it "breaks no new ground." Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs), and the tax exemption for employer-provided health insurance are among some of the existing government subsidies that help people buy health care services – 87 percent of which offer abortion as covered services.
"If opponents applied the same logic behind these assertions to the rest of health care, the mere possibility of abortion funding through Medicaid, FSAs, HSAs or the federal tax exemption for employer-provided health benefits would require their elimination," she argued.
Nevertheless, conservatives want the Democratic-majority Congress to accept an amendment that specifically prevents federal funding of abortions except in the cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother.
Congress has so far rejected proposals for such an amendment.
This coming Wednesday, President Obama – facing a health care row that could derail his top domestic priority – will deliver a major address on the reform package that is expected to offer more details while making the case for the urgency of health care reform.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told ABC's "This Week" program that after the address, lawmakers and the public will know "exactly where the president stands [and] exactly what he thinks we have to do to get health care reform this year."
"And he intends to do it," Gibbs added.
The speech is to come the day after lawmakers return from a month-long August break.