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Obama: We Need to Change Stupak Amendment

9:24 AM, Nov 10, 2009 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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From President Obama's interview with ABC's Jake Tapper:

"I laid out a very simple principle, which is this is a health care bill, not an abortion bill," Obama said. "And we're not looking to change what is the principle that has been in place for a very long time, which is federal dollars are not used to subsidize abortions."

Saying the bill cannot change the status quo regarding the ban on federally funded abortions, the president said, "There are strong feelings on both sides" about an amendment passed Saturday and added to the legislation, "and what that tells me is that there needs to be some more work before we get to the point where we're not changing the status quo."

So, Obama doesn't want to subsidize abortions. The Hyde amendment is the law that prohibits subsidization of abortions. It is attached to different bills that authorize programs like Medicaid and the federal employees' health insurance program. The Hyde amendment bans direct payment for elective abortions and using federal subsidies to purchase insurance plans that cover elective abortions. The Stupak amendment, objectively, would do the exact same thing.

But Obama thinks that the Stupak amendment is not the same as the Hyde amendment. How does he know this? Did he read the text of each amendment and make a rational objective judgment?

No. He sees there are "strong feelings on both sides" and that tells him "there needs to be some more work before we get to the point where we're not changing the status quo."

How about instead of looking at "strong feelings" for insight into what the law currently says, we read the law?

Here is the longstanding provision of law that governs the Federal Employees Health Benefits program, under which a federal agency (the Office of Personnel Management) administers access to over 200 private plans that cover over 7 million people.

SEC. 613. No funds appropriated by this Act shall be available to pay for an abortion, or the administrative expenses in connection with any health plan under the Federal employees health benefits program which provides any benefits or coverage for abortions.

SEC. 614. The provision of section 613 shall not apply where the life of the mother would be endangered if the fetus were carried to term, or the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest.

And here's the text of the Stupak amendment:

SEC. 265. LIMITATION ON ABORTION FUNDING.

(a) In General.--No funds authorized or appropriated by this Act (or an amendment made by this Act) may be used to pay for any abortion or to cover any part of the costs of any health plan that includes coverage of abortion, except in the case where a woman suffers from a physical disorder, physical injury, or physical illness that would, as certified by a physician, place the woman in danger of death unless an abortion is performed, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself, or unless the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest.

(b) Option To Purchase Separate Supplemental Coverage or Plan.--Nothing in this section shall be construed as prohibiting any nonfederal entity (including an individual or a State or local government) from purchasing separate supplemental coverage for abortions for which funding is prohibited under this section, or a plan that includes such abortions, so long as--

(1) such coverage or plan is paid for entirely using only funds not authorized or appropriated by this Act; and

(2) such coverage or plan is not purchased using--

(A) individual premium payments required for a Exchange-participating health benefits plan towards which an affordability credit is applied; or

(B) other nonfederal funds required to receive a federal payment, including a State's or locality's contribution of Medicaid matching funds.

(c) Option To Offer Separate Supplemental Coverage or Plan.--Notwithstanding section 303(b), nothing in this section shall restrict any nonfederal QHBP offering entity from offering separate supplemental coverage for abortions for which funding is prohibited under this section, or a plan that includes such abortions, so long as--

(1) premiums for such separate supplemental coverage or plan are paid for entirely with funds not authorized or appropriated by this Act;

(2) administrative costs and all services offered through such supplemental coverage or plan are paid for using only premiums collected for such coverage or plan; and

(3) any nonfederal QHBP offering entity that offers an Exchange-participating health benefits plan that includes coverage for abortions for which funding is prohibited under this section also offers an Exchange-participating health benefits plan that is identical in every respect except that it does not cover abortions for which funding is prohibited under this section.

Page 171, strike line 5 and all that follows through page 172, line 8.

Page 182, line 22, strike ``willingness or''.

Page 246, strike lines 11 through 14.