Policy-ish

Abortion Rights Supporters Now Blast Administration Over Health Law

Regardless of your beliefs about abortion, at some point you almost have to feel sorry for the Obama administration.

First, it got hammered for something it didn't do — allow states getting federal funds to run insurance programs for people with pre-existing conditions to cover elective abortions.

And now the administration is getting an earful from abortion rights groups for making sure that states don't allow that sort of funding.

To recap: On Wednesday, after the National Right to Life Committee demonstrated that unlike Pennsylvania (which was not yet using federal funds to provide abortions) that New Mexico was, the administration stepped in and New Mexico quickly changed its high-risk pool rules to eliminate that.

Here's why, said a statement from Health and Human Services Department spokeswoman Jenny Backus:

As is the case with (Federal employee health benefit) plans currently, in Pennsylvania and in all other states abortions will not be covered in the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) except in the cases of rape or incest, or where the life of the woman would be endangered.

But that's not going over so well with abortion-rights groups. Particularly because, as Igor Volsky of the Center for American Progress's Wonkroom points out, neither the health law nor the executive order President Obama issued after the law was signed prevents abortion funding in the high-risk pool program.

So here's what supporters of abortion rights have to say.

"We are deeply disappointed that the administration has voluntarily and unnecessarily decided to impose limits on private funds used to purchase health insurance coverage for abortion care in the new high-risk insurance pools," said Planned Parenthood of America President Cecile Richards. "The very women who need to purchase private health insurance in the new high-risk pools are likely to be more vulnerable to medically complicated pregnancies."

Nancy Keenan of NARAL Pro-Choice America issued a similar statement at nearly the same time. "This policy means that women who are part of these pools because they have significant health problems, such as diabetes or cancer, will not be able to access abortion care, even if their health is at further risk," Keenan said. "This decision puts in place a three-year restriction that is similar to the proposal from Rep. Bart Stupak that was rejected during the legislative debate on health reform."

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