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More Abortion in Health Care Reform?

Concerned that the “preventive care for women” mandate in the new health care law will be used to force all insurance plans to cover abortion and abortion-inducing drugs, Americans United for Life attended yesterday’s meeting held by the Institute of Medicine (IOM).  The IOM serves an important role in determining what constitutes “preventive care for women” which the new health care law mandates all insurance companies cover without cost-sharing, meaning these services must be fully covered without a co-pay.  No American will be able to choose a health insurance plan that does not cover what is determined to be “preventive care for women.”

The groups that were invited to present to IOM on “women’s issues” nearly all take a public stance in favor of abortion.  The list included Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, who stands to gain financially if abortion and abortion-inducing drugs are included in this mandate.  This huge conflict of interest was not disclosed at the meeting.

Every official presenter urged the IOM to include all FDA approved contraceptives in the preventive care mandate.  This would include so-called emergency contraceptives, including the newly approved drug ella, which can kill an embryo even after implantation.  If “contraception” is included in the definition of “preventive care,” Americans will be forced to subsidize these abortion-causing drugs with their insurance premiums.

Pro-life groups were not invited to present, but had the opportunity to give brief comments at the end of the meeting.  Evangeline Jones, a paralegal at AUL, delivered the following comment, urging the committee not to include abortion and abortion-inducing drugs:

My name is Evangeline Jones, and I represent Americans United for Life, a public-interest law and policy organization.

We submitted a written comment to the Department of Health and Human Services regarding its interim final rule for group health plans and health insurance issuers relating to coverage of preventive services under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.

I would like to highlight two central points for this advisory panel:

1. Section 2713(a)(4) of the Affordable Care Act does not expressly include elective abortions or abortifacients in “preventive care and screenings” for women, and the Senate floor debate over the addition of this section demonstrates that it was not intended that they be included;

2. It would be inappropriate to require group health plans and health insurance issuers to cover elective abortions or abortifacient drugs (that, though labeled as “contraception,” may kill an embryo by preventing or affecting implantation), including the recently approved drug ella.

Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), who offered the amendment that now mandates preventive care coverage, stated on the Senate floor,

This amendment is strictly concerned with ensuring that women get the kind of preventive screenings and treatments they may need to prevent diseases particular to women such as breast cancer and cervical cancer. There is neither legislative intent nor legislative language that would cover abortion under this amendment, nor would abortion coverage be mandated in any way by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Her comments buttress the plain language and clear purpose of Section 2713 in the Affordable Care Act – to provide screenings and care for Americans to prevent disease, not to end pregnancies.

Americans United for Life’s full comment to the Department of Health and Human Services is available on our website, www.aul.org, and I will make a copy available to the panel. 

Thank You.