Last week, I wrote a story about how the question of abortion coverage is complicating the House’s efforts to write a health reform bill. It has also arisen in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. If you watch this clip, which our friends at the C-SPAN Video Library provided me, you can see how tricky this question can become. Here is an exchange last Thursday among Senators Barbara Mikulski, Orrin Hatch and Bob Casey over what the word “include” really means when abortion could be involved:
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UPDATE: So what does Mikulski’s amendment actually do?
In this summary, Mikulski describes its purpose:
The amendment would require health plans to cover—with no or limited cost sharing requirements—women’s preventive care and screenings (including for pregnant women and individuals of child bearing age) provided for in guidelines supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration. This is an essential protection for women’s access to preventative health care not currently covered in the prevention section of the Affordable Health Choices Act.
Her office notes in the accompanying news release (for which I cannot find a link):
Senator Mikulski’s amendment does not require private health insurance providers to pay for abortions. In fact, Senator Mikulski’s amendment does not cover abortion.
But that hasn’t stopped the back and forth over the issue–and over that exchange between Mikulski and Hatch. Abortion opponents insist that it opens the door for an actual federal mandate of abortion coverage. You can watch Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council here. And Planned Parenthood counters here.