NPR: Abortion Language Creates Snag For Health Bill

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By Julie Rovner
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"As health overhaul bills head toward the House and Senate floors this month, the divisive issue of abortion is threatening to derail them. Already in the House, one anti-abortion lawmaker, Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI), says he has enough votes to block the bill's consideration unless he is allowed to offer an amendment to strengthen language in the bill banning federal abortion funding."

"Abortion rights supporters say the bills don\'t actually expand access to abortion — and they wish they would.

"\'This is not at all what the reproductive rights movement had hoped for in health care reform, and it's not a win for women,\' says Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights. \'It's a compromise.\'

Originally, says Northup, she and others wanted to see abortion covered like any other women's health service. \'About 1 in 3 women in the United States has an abortion in her lifetime,\' she says, \'and it should be a part of her reproductive health care.\'

But it was quickly clear that wasn\'t going to happen. What lawmakers decided instead was to try to craft what they called abortion-neutral language. In other words, they tried to freeze in place the status quo. Currently, the federal government doesn\'t pay for abortion in most cases, but many, if not most, private insurance plans do."

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