Abortion as 'Preventive Care?'

Could pro-abortion advocates be trying to sneak abortion funding into the health-care reform legislation pending in the U.S. Senate?

While the Senate expects to see a debate similar to the one that took place in the House before the larger body adopted the Stupak-Pitts amendment, the National Right to Life Committee is warning that an amendment offered by Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., could leave the door wide open to public funding of abortion.

In a Nov. 30 letter to senators, the committee expressed its opposition to Amendment 2791, which would, it says, “empower political appointees at the [Health Resources and Services Administration] to issue mandates that all health plans cover any service ‘with respect to women’ that is declared to constitute ‘preventive care.’”

“If Congress were to grant any Executive Branch entity sweeping authority to define services that private health plans must cover, merely by declaring a given service to constitute ‘preventive care,’ then that authority could be employed in the future to require all health plans to cover abortions,” says the letter, written by the committee’s legislative director, Douglas Johnson, and Susan Muskett, senior legislative counsel.

Johnson and Muskett say there are good reasons to fear that “preventive services” may at some point be interpreted to include abortion. Prominent pro-abortion advocates are on record discussing abortion as a category of “preventive health care,” they say. And when Mikulski offered a similar amendment in the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions earlier this year, it was backed by Naral Pro-Choice America, Catholics for Choice, Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion groups.

Johnson and Muskett call on the Senate to add language to the amendment to “explicitly exclude abortion from the universe of services that might be mandated as ‘preventive care.’”

Meanwhile, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, told Fox News Tuesday that it will be tough to pass an amendment he is pushing to ban taxpayer funding of abortions.

“It’s going to be very difficult for us to get the 60 votes that would be necessary to pass the amendment. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try,” he said, “and it doesn’t mean there aren’t Democrats who might open their minds and say, ‘Yes, why should the taxpayers have to pay for abortion?’”