Explain this Abortion/Health Care Thing to me

Play nice; I seek a factual answer.

I am spring-loaded in the “be careful about abortion camp,” but I am more than willing to listen to arguments. Last night I was watching Rachel Maddow.

She indicated that the anti-abortion language of the health-care reform bill passed by the House was a change of policy. I barely know what the present policy is. But as I understand it, public funds may not be used to pay for an elective abortion. (Is that right?)

An abortion needed to save the life of the mother is not elective and so is covered by Medicaid and other public funding (VA, IHS and all that). (Am I right so far?)

Does the language in the bill passed by the House simply continue this policy? Maddow seemed to indicate that (somehow) a woman covered by the public option would be unable to get a life-saving abortion and that she could not purchase an insurance rider with her own money to cover abortions. (I admit few women would purchase such a policy of course. WHo plans to need an abortion?)

Frankly, I think Maddow was misleading me last night and I am confused.

This article sums it up pretty well. Basically the new legislation makes it so that people receiving government subsidies to purchase health insurance cannot purchase plans on the new health insurance exchange that include abortion coverage. As subsidized customers will probably be the majority of the people buying plans via the exchange (at least at first), this pretty much makes it so that the insurance plans offered via the exchange will not include abortion coverage.

But life-saving abortions would be covered? If so, it seems to be a side issue.

I have just read the link. If the facts are as presented, this is a change to a more-restrictive policy.

Nope, I am still confused. Paragraph 1 says women would not be allowed to buy a rider, but Paragragh Two says the opposite. Which is the case?

Say further on in the article: “The restrictive language allows people to buy “riders” that would cover abortions. But nobody plans to have an unplanned pregnancy, so this concession is meaningless. It is not clear that insurers would even offer the riders since few people would buy them.”

So yes it is technically possible but opinion seems to be it is a worthless concession since insurers would likely not offer it.

So may I say the bill is not a change of policy? That is public funds can be used to pay for a life-saving abortion, but not an elective one. Further, if a person wants an elective abortion, they must pay with their own dime?

If this is the case, it seems to be an extension of the present policy.

I’m not sure I understand that logic either. I understand the first premise. Let’s say that a health insurance policy that costs $20 doesn’t cover abortion, but a rider that covers abortion costs $10 (making these numbers up). If you get a $10 subsidy from the government to purchase health insurance you can’t turn around and use $10 of your own money to buy the abortion rider.

Because, agree or disagree, it could be argued that the government gave you that $10 to purchase an abortion rider. It could be said to be valid either way by using an accounting gimmick. That’s the logic anyways.

But, you can pay full price for an abortion out of pocket and the government doesn’t care? Couldn’t they argue that it is another “accounting gimmick” and that they just subsidized $10 toward the price of your abortion? Perhaps a policy that nobody on a government subsidy can get an abortion period? Ooh, that would go over like a lead balloon, but it is the same logic.

Prohibit any other thing we don’t like: booze, smokes, junk food, lap dances, sex toys, etc. because you could use the same accounting gimmick and argue that the government is paying for these things.

I suspect that few people understand this; that may be why the NYT article was confusing.