Sen. Reed Doesn’t Say Whether ‘Morally Right’ To Use Taxpayer Money To Fund Abortion in Health Care Bill

By Karen Schuberg | December 19, 2009 | 4:20 PM EST

Senator Jack Reed (D-R.I.)

( – Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) would not say whether it is “morally right” to use taxpayer money to pay for health plans that cover abortion, as the Senate health care bill currently stipulates.
On Capitol Hill last week, asked Reed: “Do you think it is morally right to use tax money from pro-life Americans for health plans that cover abortion? What is your opinion on that? Is it morally right?”
Senator Reed said: “I think what Sen. [Bob] Casey said is accurate, that this has been an attempt to codify the, uh, basically the rule that would prohibit funding – and we’re looking for a way to do that.”

The Senate health care plan, the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” includes a  section headlined “Assured Availability of Varied Coverage Through Exchanges.” In this section, on p. 120 of the 2,074-page legislation, it requires the secretary of Health and Human Services to ensure that at least one health insurance plan offered in government-regulated insurance exchanges -- where people will be able to purchase health insurance using government subsidies -- must provide coverage of abortion. 
The secretary also must make certain that at least one plan available in the exchanges does not cover abortions.  
The relevant language says: “The Secretary shall assure that with respect to qualified health plans offered in any Exchange established pursuant to this title—(I) there is at least one such plan that provides coverage of services described in clauses (i) and (ii) of subparagraph (B); and (II) there is at least one such plan that does not provide coverage of services described in subparagraph (B)(i)."
The clause “(i)” of “subparagraph (B)” referred to in this passage defines those types of abortions currently banned from receiving federal funding under the Hyde Amendment. The Hyde Amendment bans federal funding for all abortions except those done in cases of rape, incest and a threat to the life of the mother. 
The language of the Senate’s health care bill mandates that at least one health insurance plan available to people buying health insurance with federal subsidies cover those abortions that are currently prohibited from receiving federal funding under the Hyde amendment.
Back on Dec. 8, the Senate voted 54-45 to table – to end consideration of and thus kill -- an amendment by Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) that would have essentially applied the Hyde amendment language to the Senate health care bill. And, like the amendment by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) in the House of Representatives, which passed in that chamber, Nelson’s proposal would have explicitly prohibited any federal money from paying for any part of a health insurance plan that covers abortion.   
Seven Democrats and 38 Republicans voted against tabling Nelson’s amendment while 52 Democrats and two Republicans voted for tabling the amendment and thus ending it. 
Senator Reed voted to table, to end the Nelson amendment.