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Obama Admin. Claims Obamacare Isn't Paying for Abortions in Pennsylvania

A muddled clarification.

1:57 PM, Jul 15, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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Douglas Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee explains that the Pennsylvania high-risk insurance pool--funded entirely by the federal government--will provide coverage for elective abortions:

Examination of the detailed Pennsylvania plan, reveals ... that [it will]  include insurance coverage of any legal abortion.

The section on abortion (see page 14) asserts that "elective abortions are not covered." However, that statement proves to be a red herring, because the operative language does not define "elective." Rather, the proposal specifies that the coverage "includes only abortions and contraceptives that satisfy the requirements of" several specific statutes, the most pertinent of which is 18 Pa. C.S. § 3204, which says that an abortion is legal in Pennsylvania (consistent with Roe v. Wade) if a single physician believes that it is "necessary" based on "all factors (physical, emotional, psychological, familial and the woman's age) relevant to the well-being of the woman." Indeed, the cited statute provides only a single circumstance in which an abortion prior to 24 weeks is NOT permitted under the Pennsylvania statute: "No abortion which is sought solely because of the sex of the unborn child shall be deemed a necessary abortion."

The Obama administration and Pennsylvania officials are pushing back against that claim, ABC's Jake Tapper reports:

But Rosanne Placey of the Pennsylvania Insurance Department disputed [Johnson's claim]. Placey said the language in the solicitation was just “a placeholder” and that “the bottom line is we will abide by all federal regulations,” which means “someone couldn’t come in and get an abortion on demand.”

That clarification doesn't actually clarify much. What does it mean that the language is just a "placeholder"? Isn't that an admission that the current language allows funding for abortion coverage? Will the language change? If so, when?

The clarification from HHS spokeswoman Jenny Backus isn't any better:

As is the case with FEHB [Federal Employee Health Benefits] plans currently, and with the Affordable Care Act and the President's related Executive Order more generally, in Pennsylvania and in all other states abortions will not be covered in the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) except in the cases of rape or incest, or where the life of the woman would be endangered.

Our policy is the same for both state and federally-run PCIP programs. We will reiterate this policy in guidance to those running the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan at both the state and federal levels. The contracts to operate the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan include a requirement to follow all federal laws and guidance.

So what precisely will the "guidance" be for Pennsylvania and other states? Backus doesn't say. If the guidance is simply to follow the "Affordable Care Act and the President's related Executive Order," then the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan could include elective abortion coverage.

Congressman Bart Stupak (D, Mich.) claims the executive order prohibits funding of elective abortion coverage in the high-risk pools, but David Freddoso points out that the order does not apply to high-risk pools.

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