GOP to Sebelius: Don’t cover abortions

July 30, 2010

By Sean Lengell – The Washington Times

A group of Republican senators on Wednesday threatened to force changes to the new national health care law unless the Obama administration does more to ensure that federal dollars won’t be used to pay for elective abortions.

Emboldened by a new analysis by Congress‘ nonpartisan research agency, the Republicans urged Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to “act immediately” to prohibit most abortion coverage in the temporary government-backed insurance “pools” that the legislation created.

“Absent such contractual requirements, it will be necessary for Congress to modify the current law to include restrictions to prevent federal dollars from being used to prevent such coverage,” said the letter signed by Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee ranking member Sen. Michael B. Enzi, Wyoming Republican, and 12 other GOP senators.

The senators’ request came on the heels of a Friday memo by the Congressional Research Service (CRS), which concluded that the health care law was vaguely written in regard to abortion funding. The question of whether Mr. Obama‘s plan would open the door to federal funding of abortions proved one of the most politically difficult issues of the health care debate endgame for congressional Democrats.

CRS researchers said that, under certain situations, the law could permit elective abortions in the new, federally funded “Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plans,” which will provide coverage in the states for high-risk uninsured people who have been turned away by private insurers.

CRS confirms our concern that [federal legislation] lacks any restrictions prohibiting states from using federal funding to pay for abortions” in the new high-risk insurance pools, the GOP letter said.

The senators requested that Mrs. Sebelius address their concerns, including identifying special actions and a timeline for implementation, by Friday.

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