Time's Michael Scherer did some good reporting this week on abortion coverage in the proposed health-care bills:
The Commander in Chief has, of late, become something of a fact checker in chief. In town halls, interviews and meetings with interest groups, President Barack Obama repeatedly harps on what he calls the "myths" and "fabrications" about health-care reform.
The list runs from "death panels," which have not been proposed by Congress, to illegal immigrants, who would not get coverage under the current proposals, even though 55% of Americans believe otherwise, according to a recent poll. The President also routinely mentions the issue of abortion. "You've heard that this is all going to mean government funding of abortion," Obama said recently in a call to religious leaders. "Not true."
But this last statement, while technically correct, does not tell the whole story. The health-care reform proposed by House Democrats, if enacted, would in fact mark a significant change in the Federal Government's role in the financing of abortions. "It would be a dramatic shift," says Representative Bart Stupak, a Michigan Democrat who has vowed to oppose the bill because of how it would affect abortion. Stupak says dozens of House Democrats may join him in opposing a final health-care compromise unless the abortion language is changed, presenting a clear challenge to Democratic vote counters that could imperil a party-line vote. [...]
"We are going to do everything we can to stop the rule, or the bill, from coming to the floor," [Democratic Congressman Bart] Stupak says, adding that as many as 39 Democratic members of Congress may join him in the effort. It remains unclear how the Senate will deal with the abortion issue. There is also no consensus within the Democratic Party about whether a public option should be included in final health-care-reform legislation.
In the meantime, Stupak says that Obama's statements during recent public events signal one of two things: either he does not fully understand the current House bill, which Stupak maintains has the effect of publicly funding abortion, or "if he is aware of it, and he is making these statements, then he is misleading people."