A reader forwarded this email that was sent by Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards to the activist group's list late yesterday, which comes after a week of debate and push by anti-abortion activists over whether two states would allow elective abortion under the new health care reform bill.
But Richards is arguing the White House is now going further than the bill requires.
The key lines are these: "The Obama administration has decided that no woman in the new high-risk insurance pools will be allowed to obtain abortion coverage beyond limited cases (rape, incest, endangering the life of the woman). Not even if she pays for that coverage with her own money...
"...The president committed his administration to preventing any federal funds from being spent on abortion care. But the fact is, this announcement from HHS goes well beyond that. Nothing in the new health care reform law requires a ban on abortion coverage in the high-risk pools. No law passed by Congress forced this decision. The Obama administration has chosen to place a new burden on ill and medically vulnerable women seeking abortion coverage."
Talk dominated conservative news outlets over the last few days that New Mexico and Pennsylvania were going to allow elective abortions as part of their applications for access to the new federal insurance pools.
Healh and Human Services tried to tamp out the flap, which followed a year of debate over the Stupak amendment about what would be covered in the bill. Critics argued this week that the abortion restriction provision was mushy, and HHS and Rep. Stupak pushed back.
"As is the case with FEHB 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," HHS said in a statement. "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."
This is sure to become a bigger issue as the midterm races approach, and could bring the health care legislation back as an active issue (involving implementation) as opposed to a past one that's being regurgitated by Republicans who lost the vote over it.
Also, Richards is making a tactical move with this email to push the story, which has been bubbling in a limited way this week, out into the mainstream.
Full Planned Parenthood email:
This is not what we worked for. This is not what we fought for.
You and I, and millions of Planned Parenthood supporters, fought for a year to make sure that health care reform would provide comprehensive coverage to every woman, man, and child in America. We achieved some tremendous victories, including defeating the Stupak amendment that would have banned private insurance coverage of abortion for millions of women.
Now, a Stupak-like rule is back - and it came from the Obama administration. Tell the Obama administration to reverse this decision and allow women to secure the coverage they need.
The final health care reform bill included extensive restrictions on using federal funds to pay for abortion coverage, but the decision announced by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services yesterday goes beyond even these restrictions.
The Obama administration has decided that no woman in the new high-risk insurance pools will be allowed to obtain abortion coverage beyond limited cases (rape, incest, endangering the life of the woman). Not even if she pays for that coverage with her own money.
We need to make sure the Obama administration knows this is unacceptable. Click here to do your part and tell the Obama administration to reverse this decision.
The high-risk insurance pools are for some of the most medically vulnerable women in the country - those with pre-existing conditions such as breast and ovarian cancer, AIDS, diabetes, and other conditions that may make pregnancy extraordinarily dangerous. These women will be locked out from abortion coverage, even if they pay for it out of their own pockets.
Tell the Obama administration to reverse this decision immediately.
The president committed his administration to preventing any federal funds from being spent on abortion care. But the fact is, this announcement from HHS goes well beyond that. Nothing in the new health care reform law requires a ban on abortion coverage in the high-risk pools. No law passed by Congress forced this decision. The Obama administration has chosen to place a new burden on ill and medically vulnerable women seeking abortion coverage.
After all the amazing work and the unyielding dedication from Planned Parenthood supporters like you that helped get us this far, I can't just let that happen. This is not what we fought for - which means it's time to fight back against the Obama administration's abortion coverage ban now. Click here to take action.
Thank you so very much for standing with us and the women, men, and teens who rely on Planned Parenthood.
Cecile Richards, President
Planned Parenthood Federation of America