Although the bill has stirred passions on both sides of the abortion-rights debate – which are likely to be echoed when the Senate takes up its version – the practical effect of the restrictions will be limited, statistics suggest and some experts in family-planning issues say….
Analysts don’t expect the loss of insurance coverage to affect the number of clinics providing abortions. Perhaps the biggest impact of the House bill is that it would bar millions of low-income women who are currently uninsured from obtaining abortion coverage in the future.
Still, under the House bill, these women wouldn’t be any worse off financially than they are now, since they are already paying for abortion out-of-pocket. Indeed, subsidies in the bill could help low-income women obtain insurance that covers other reproductive care, including contraception, which can cost hundreds of dollars a year.
Like it or not, the Stupak-Pitts amendment makes no effort to upset the status quo under Harris. It blocks embedding the abortion subsidy in the “affordability credit” for health benefit plans sold on the public exchange. And it takes the same position with respect to nonfederal contributions to such programs as Medicaid that also spark federal subsidies.
This limitation, however, allows participants on the public exchange to get supplemental abortion coverage at their own expense outside the exchange. There is nothing that prevents pro-choice groups from paying those services out of their own pockets. Ironically, even this formal segregation of funds does not stop the indirect subsidy of abortions: Any participant on the public exchange could use her savings to purchase that additional coverage.