Today Congresswoman Lois Capps (CA-23) will take to the House floor to speak in strong opposition to the Stupak amendment which would restrict women's access to abortion services. The Stupak amendment also significantly departs from the status quo of federal policy related to abortion coverage and undermines efforts to maintain the principle of abortion neutrality in comprehensive health insurance reform legislation.
"Comprehensive health insurance reform legislation is not the place to be re-debating federal abortion policy, nor is it the place to dramatically expand or contract access to abortion services," said Capps. "That's why I took such pains to craft compromise language that would maintain the status quo on abortion policy. My language, which was incorporated into the bill, is in line with current law prohibiting federal funding for abortion services except in the rare instances of rape, incest and to protect the life of the woman. The Stupak amendment rejects this common ground approach. Instead, the Stupak amendment places new restrictions on women's access to abortion coverage in the private health insurance market by preventing low and middle income women from purchasing private health plans that cover abortion services even if they pay for most of their premium with their own money. Currently, the majority of private health insurance plans offer abortion coverage. The Stupak amendment is illogical, discriminatory, unnecessary, and sets a terrible precedent. I hope the majority of my colleagues join me in opposing this misguided amendment."
Background on the Capps language's common ground approach:
· Clarifies that the government could not mandate nor prohibit coverage for abortion services for plans in the exchange
· Ensures that patients will have access to at least one plan that does cover abortions services and one that does not
o Provides more choices to those who are pro-life since most private health insurance plans cover abortion services regardless of whether or not patient wants it
· Also expands the "Conscience Clauses"
o (i.e., permission for providers to refuse to provide abortions), including the one known as the Weldon Amendment) are retained and expanded.
· Clarifies that public funding may not be used to pay for abortion services.
o Private funds (generated by patient premiums), however, could be used to pay for these services. These private funds must be kept strictly segregated from any federal funds.
· The Capps amendment does not interfere with the Hyde Amendment (which says no Federal funds can be used to pay for abortions except in the case of rape, incest, or life of the woman).
· The Capps amendment does not interfere with or preempt any state laws regarding abortion (i.e. parental notification, waiting period, etc)
A copy of Congresswoman Capps floor speech as prepared for delivery follows:
"M. Chairman, I rise in strong opposition to this amendment.
"Contrary to what the sponsors and their supporters have told you, the underlying bill prohibits federal funding for abortion. It's written clearly and plainly on page 246 line 11 "Prohibition of use of public funds for abortion coverage." But that wasn't good enough for people who want to strip women of the right to choose altogether despite purporting to just want to maintain the status quo. So instead we have an amendment before us that restricts a woman's right to access a legal medical procedure in this country.
"It's ironic, actually, because most of the people who support this amendment claim to oppose government interference in health care. Yet this amendment is government interference in a decision that should be made between a woman and her physician.
If this amendment passes, it will be the ONLY language in the entire legislation that actually restricts coverage of a legal medical procedure.
"Not one other legal medical procedure is singled-out for rationing. I urge my colleagues to vote no on this terrible amendment."