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Obama Restricts Abortion Coverage in High-Risk Pools — So Much for Our 'Pro-Choice' President

By July 16, 2010

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President Obama would not be where he is today without the support of women who believed him when he said he was pro-choice.

At least, he said that when he was presidential candidate Barack Obama. Yet his administration hasn't followed through with many of his campaign trail promises, and initial steps in a pro-choice direction have been reversed by subsequent actions.

The latest of them, according to NARAL (National Abortion Rights Action League) is the decision to exclude abortion coverage from "high-risk pools" -- a newly created program for individuals with pre-existing conditions or other high-risk medical needs.

Within these pools, abortions would only be covered in the cases of  rape, incest, or if the pregnancy threatened the life of the mother. The high-risk pools are being set up as a transitional program as the federal government establishes its much-touted health-insurance exchanges which will go into effect  in 2014.

Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, had this to say about the decision to exclude abortion:

"Abortion is the most common surgical procedure women receive....This policy means that women who are part of these pools because they have significant health problems, such as diabetes or cancer, will not be able to access abortion care, even if their health is at further risk. This decision puts in place a three-year restriction that is similar to the proposal from Rep. Bart Stupak that was rejected during the legislative debate on health reform."

The president's decision to back away from his earlier positions is profoundly frustrating to women who voted for him assuming he'd be  a strong advocate for reproductive rights. I'm checking in with other prominent pro-choice women and hope to have additional reactions later on today.

Addendum My disappointment is shared by two women on the front lines of protecting choice.

From Gloria Feldt, author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power and former president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America:

Outraged about Obama's de facto implementation of the Stupak amendment? Well get this: They have also excluded birth control from the first iteration of the new health plan! Women are 52% of the voters and up to 60% of voters who support Democrats. We have the power to rise up and hold Obama to his campaign promises. And now is the time to do it. No excuses and no fair complaining about the result if we fail to do so.

And from the Rev. Debra Haffner, Director of the Religious Institute, a multifaith organization dedicated to advocating for sexual health, education, and justice in faith communities and society:

The President's action yesterday is extremely disheartening to those of us who believed that he would be consistently pro-choice in his actions.  It was neither required by law or policy, but instead seems to be calculated to assuage those who would separate reproductive health services, including legal, safe abortion services from health care to those most in need.  As a pro-choice religious leader, I believe that abortion is a moral decision and that it must not only be safe and legal, but accessible to all.


July 16, 2010 at 4:55 pm
(1) WomenOnGuard says:

I can’t believe this! What other limitations are they going to implement? Are they going to exclude venereal disease treatment, erectile dysfunction drugs or not cover intrauterine devices? All medical needs should be covered!

July 21, 2010 at 1:01 am
(2) day says:

This is self-centered but I’m glad my uterus is retired.
I feel that other women will be in needless pain and agony over loss of rights and control over their bodies at the worst moments when they need them the most and are the most vulnerable.

July 21, 2010 at 7:49 am


July 21, 2010 at 9:33 am
(4) Anna says:

Frankly as a woman, the one who has to go through the pregnancy, labor, and delivery(4 times, all delivered naturally with no pain meds)….as the one who will be mostly responsible for the feeding and care of the infant up to adulthood (and then taking care of a grandchild for his first year of life as well as my 2 school aged kids)….I don’t want men to have a say in what I do with my body. Michael Obosi can have a say about a strictly woman’s issue when he can give birth, otherwise seek life elsewhere. Often times women are perfectly healthy until they become pregnant, often at the behest of some man who may be around to “help” raise the child, but will not be doing the majority of the work, the mother will -as well as the brunt of the housework, and having a job. This just proves to me yet again that I was right not to vote for or trust a liberal.

July 21, 2010 at 12:44 pm
(5) Leena says:

This is one area where I feel very conflicted.

As a staunchly pro-choice woman, I despise the Republican games that are played out around this issue.

Every time a health care issue comes to the table, GOP leaders hold it hostage around the issue of abortion and choice.

The same thing happened regarding Obama’s health care reform bill. Something that is so basic, so necessary for equal care for all Americans got so much flak and controversy.

I will tell you, if he had insisted on abortion coverage as part of the package, it would NEVER EVER have passed. The whole effort towards social and medical justice would have gone down solely because of GOP opposition to abortion!

I’m less angry at Obama and more angry at those legislators (frankly mostly GOP, but also some Democrats) that hijacked the bill because of their own personal and private beliefs about abortion. I’m just waiting for this country to get the sweet reason (in the words of Gloria Steinem) that reproduction should always be the choice of the woman and her doctor!

July 21, 2010 at 12:59 pm
(6) Leena says:

@Michael Obosi- you may see abortion as another form of murder, and you and your partner may agree that is not a choice for your family. But the issue is whether or not it is fair for one small group of people to impose their religious viewpoints on a whole country. Especially when that one religious viewpoint concerns the health care of 52% of the American population!

July 22, 2010 at 11:02 pm
(7) LB says:

Check this out… while the Democrats are fuming that Obama has abandoned them on the issue of choice, the Republicans (Mike Huckabee, to be exact) is posting this bit of fun on his Facebook:

“Tonight I am just reading about what appears to be the Obama administration and this Congress beginning to fund abortions in Pennsylvania with federal tax dollars.”

So far he has 332 screaming replies, all chanting that Obama must go because he’s using tax dollars to fund abortions.

The GOP is rallying their base using this rhetoric. Meanwhile the Democrats are crying “so much for our pro-choice president.” I’ve never seen it work like this before. The fact is, a GOP president in 2012 will truly abandon women’s choice, and there won’t be any confusion!

July 23, 2010 at 4:46 pm
(8) OzarksUSA says:

I can’t believe this! From the point of someone with numerous chronic illnesses I find this restriction in abortion coverage disgusting.

July 24, 2010 at 10:26 pm
(9) Veronica says:

Our bodies are being sacrificed because our president wants to kiss the butts of a bunch of men who think we’re good for nothing but pumping out babies at a moment’s notice. We’re people, not dispensers!

April 9, 2012 at 3:14 pm
(10) Auburnwolf says:

Ok, I have a question to all of you who are all for abortion- What if Your Mother Aborted You? Yea think about that before you go ahead and get rid of that beautiful child, yes that fetus if a human even if they say its not. Its not going to be born as anyother creature now is it?

I say this because I was almost aborted my self, yea my mother thought of sending me to my death.

Here is the better choice if you cannot take care of the child, Adoption! Yes! Its wonderful!. Just really think about it though, what if you where torn apart piece by piece from your mothers uterus? The person who was suposed to love and care for you just lets people rip you apart.

I know you don’t want to ruin your bodies, and you don’t want the responsibility. Well I guess you should have thought about that before you layed down now.


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