Senate Health Bill Funds Abortion; Media Mostly Mum

Major newspapers and networks have been ignoring the question of abortion coverage in the new health care bill sponsored by Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont. The only newspapers to even mention abortion coverage since the bill was released on September 16 were The Boston Globe, The Oregonian, and The Orlando Sentinel - all of which were editorials.

The Boston Globe only mentioned in passing that the funding of abortion was scratched in order to please the Republicans, who refuse to be pleased anyway. The Oregonian admitted that abortion was funded in the bill but concluded that "being a citizen means paying taxes, and being one of hundreds of millions of citizens means that some tax revenues will fund something you don't like." And The Orlando Sentinel stated that the "truth" behind Republicans "right-wing anti-Obama rhetoric" against abortion is simply "cowardly coded smoke screens intended to mask fear and racism."

CNN was the only major network to discuss the bill's abortion coverage. Shortly after the bill was released, CNN mentioned on three different occasions that there would be "no federal funds for abortion" except for cases of incest, rape, or if the mother's life was in danger. On September 18, CNN's Tony Harris interviewed Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. Harris asked Perkins to "put aside the legitimate real concerns" with the bill and instead address abortion coverage, which apparently isn't legitimate or real.

Perkins said that there are still major loopholes where the government could subsidize abortion. Harris pressed him, saying that the language "suggests pretty clearly, as we read it, that there will be no federal money going to abortions, but you're still not satisfied is what you're saying?"

"No, because it still has the funding mechanism which creates these so-called separate pools of money. And so we just need very straightforward language that says government money will not go into it, and then that issue's satisfied. But they've yet to do that."

Perkins had written a press release two days before his CNN appearance clearly explaining the loopholes:

 ... the Baucus plan would subsidize health plans that cover elective abortions but with tax credits. The accounting used in the bill is a matter of smoke and mirrors, since elective abortion is authorized for health plans receiving government subsidies.

The Baucus bill goes even farther by mandating that there be at least one health plan in each region across the country which covers elective abortions. Such a government mandate of abortion-covered plans in each state exchange and subsidizing such plans does little to prevent 'federal funding of abortion' as President Obama said last week. Moreover, the Baucus bill would spend $6 billion to establish health care co-ops and this funding could be used for elective abortion because it is not subject to the Hyde Amendment appropriations provision.