Senate Bill More Closely Preserves Abortion Status Quo


Opponents and supporters of abortion rights agreed early on, in theory, to maintain the “status quo” with “abortion neutral
health care legislation. The idea was that health care reform is not the appropriate place to continue the fight over abortion and neither side should attempt to use health care reform as a vehicle to further expand or restrict access to abortion.

Click to view this PDF chart that explains the current law on abortion funding and shows how the House and Senate bills would maintain or change the status quo.

In pursuit of this objective, Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA) introduced an amendment
in the House Energy & Commerce Committee that attempted to strike a
balance and preserve the status quo on abortion funding. This proposal
was adopted
and ultimately included in the original House bill. The Senate Finance
Committee also passed a bill that closely mirrored the Capps
Amendment’s treatment of abortion funding.

Yet some abortion rights opponents refused to accept the Capps compromise and continued to lobby
for further restrictions. Negotiations broke down and House Speaker
Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) let Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) introduce an amendment
that placed additional restrictions on abortion funding. In contrast,
the merged Senate bill—released November 18—maintains most of the Capps
compromise, but inserts additional provisions to ensure that no federal
money will be used to pay for abortion services beyond those currently
allowed by federal law. These provisions may go further toward
addressing abortion rights opponents’ concerns, but they may also
require new concessions from abortion rights advocates. Further
analysis is necessary to determine the full ramifications of this new
language on abortion coverage.

This chart explains the current law on abortion funding and shows
how the House and Senate bills would maintain or change the status quo.

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