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Attacks on Women’s Health

La Opinión, Posted: Dec 25, 2009

LOS ANGELES--An editorial in La Opinión notes that it is ironic that a Congress that seems to be refusing to offer a public health care option, which some criticize as "socialized medicine," would extend its long arm to make decisions on behalf of women without even considering their medical needs.

During the debate on national healthcare reform, a bitter argument arose on the use of federal funds in subsidies to private insurance offering abortion services. A handful of lawmakers in both chambers threatened to put the entire reform bill at risk in order to impose ways of preventing women from being able to obtain coverage for abortions, whether under public insurance—a ban that already exists—or under private coverage.

Although this supposedly only applies to policies subsidized by the national insurance exchange, which would be formed if the bill becomes law, an analysis by the George Washington University Medical Center found that the legislative language would affect abortion coverage for all women, not only those receiving subsidies or participating in the national exchange. It would even limit the ability of states to provide this coverage to Medicaid recipients, a freedom individual states currently enjoy.

The Stupak-Pitts amendment, passed in the House, is the most severe. The Senate measure, the Nelson amendment, would leave states with the ability to offer this coverage. Editors write that they would like to see this issue negotiated in the reconciliation stage. Those who will suffer most, as usual, are working-class women.

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