WASHINGTON-Publicly funded health insurance in Pennsylvania and New Mexico could cover abortions, despite President Obama's executive order that said that wouldn't happen.
The Obama administration has designated $160 million for a high-risk insurance pool in Pennsylvania, which includes insurance that would cover abortions. The plan, set up by Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell's administration, says "elective abortions are not covered" but then says the plan covers "abortions and contraceptives" allowed under Pennsylvania law, or abortions up to 24 weeks.
House Republican Leader John Boehner said this showed the president's executive order was "a sham." Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said the order "wasn't worth the paper it was printed on."
But the Obama administration disputed that federal money would cover any abortions. "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," Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Jenny Backus said in a statement. Rosanne Placey of the Pennsylvania Insurance Department told ABC News that the abortion language was "a placeholder" until the plan gets up and running.
The National Right to Life Committee, which first discovered that the Pennsylvania plan could cover abortions, also reported that a federally funded high-risk pool in New Mexico would cover abortions. This pool will begin dispensing benefits August 1.
"In just the past 24 hours, we've learned of two states in which the new federal high-risk insurance programs created under Obamacare and approved by the Obama administration will use federal funds to pay for abortion," Boehner said in a statement.
Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., the leader of a bloc of pro-life Democrats, had held up passage of healthcare reform over concerns that the new law would allow public money to cover abortions. But in the end he and some of the Democrats with him agreed to vote for the reform after President Obama agreed to issue an executive order. The bill passed the House on a thin margin, 219-212, and the president signed the executive order March 24, the day after he signed the healthcare bill into law.
The order mostly reinforced existing statutes that call for "an adequate enforcement mechanism to ensure that federal funds are not used for abortion services, consistent with a longstanding federal statutory restriction that is commonly known as the Hyde Amendment."
Despite the executive order, pro-life groups warned that healthcare reform would allow public money to fund abortions. "Never have we so regretted being right on an issue," Family Research Council Senior Vice President Tom McClusky told LifeNews.com.
On the news of the Pennsylvania plan, Americans United For Life issued a statement saying Congress needed to act "immediately" to pass measures that would incorporate the Hyde Amendment into the new healthcare law.