Abortion Secrets

The latest fly in the ointment of health care reform is whether the new plan(s) will cover abortions.

No one want’s to handle that hot potato.

An Obama administration official refused Sunday to rule out the possibility that federal tax money might be used to pay for abortions under proposed health care legislation.

Peter R. Orszag, the White House budget director, asked whether he was prepared to say that “no taxpayer money will go to pay for abortions,” answered: “I am not prepared to say explicitly that right now. It’s obviously a controversial issue, and it’s one of the questions that is playing out in this debate.”

Why all the secrecy?

Or is it just ignorance?

Either way, we have a right to know how our tax dollars will be spent.

In an analysis of the House bill, the National Right to Life Committee said that ordinary principles of administrative law could allow the Obama administration to determine what would be included in the benefits package. “There is no doubt,” the group said, “that coverage of abortion will be mandated, unless Congress explicitly excludes abortion from the scope of federal authority to define ‘essential benefits.’ ”

“No doubt” may be an accurate assessment or just inflammatory rhetoric. I can’t say one way or the other.

What I don’t like is Washington telling me what kind of policy I must buy and what kind of benefits it must cover.

Susan M. Pisano, a spokeswoman for America’s Health Insurance Plans, a trade group, said that most insurance companies offered benefit packages that included abortion coverage but that many employers decided not to buy such packages.

That may no longer be an option under the change you can believe in health insurance plan.

Since 1976, Congress has imposed sweeping restrictions on the use of federal money for abortions. The Hyde Amendment, for instance, prohibits the Medicaid program from spending federal money on most abortions.

If abortions have been debated for 33 years you would think the folks in Congress would be able to answer a direct question.

Apparently not.

Smaller cars, bigger health insurance, Poppa Washington.

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