By Lisa Wangsness and Susan Milligan
“The deal on abortion came together late Friday night in dramatic fashion, hours after an earlier agreement collapsed. About 40 anti-abortion Democrats, represented by Bart Stupak of Michigan and Brad Ellsworth of Indiana, threatened to vote against the measure unless Pelosi included language that they said would apply the three-decade-old rule restricting the use of federal money for abortion procedures to the new insurance plans that will be available through the ‘exchange.’
Pelosi ultimately agreed to allow a vote on an amendment forbidding the public option from covering abortion procedures except in the case of rape, incest, or threat to the woman’s life, and prohibiting insurance premium subsidies for low-income people from going toward purchasing insurance that includes abortion coverage.
Democrats who oppose abortion rights said the provision simply preserves the status quo, current rules prohibit Medicaid and federal employees’ health insurance plans from covering abortion. Federal employees can buy supplemental abortion coverage, but Laura MacCleery, government relations director for the Center for Reproductive Rights, said few people do and therefore few plans offer it.
“The anti-health care reform strategy has been to divide and conquer,” she said. “The problem with this strategy is that millions of women will suffer as a consequence of the games being played in the political branches of our government.”