Abortion Fight Moves to Mikulski Amendment

Antiabortion groups say the Senate's Mikulski amendment opens door to mandated abortion coverage.

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By Dan Gilgoff, God & Country

The Mikulski "women's health amendment" to the Senate healthcare reform bill didn't include the word abortion. But opponents of abortion allege the amendment, which was passed today, leaves the door open for the Health Resources and Services Administration to include abortion as "preventive care" in its guidelines and therefore guarantee no-cost coverage for the procedure.

"Because today's bill as written has no exclusion for abortion in its language, there is no doubt that Sen. [Barbara] Mikulski's amendment opens the floodgates to massive public underwriting of abortion, a position Planned Parenthood has always favored," Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said in a statement. "Without the adoption of 'Stupak-Pitts' amendment language in the Senate version of the bill, it's now very clear that taxpayers will be forced to pay for abortions."

Planned Parenthood praised the Mikulski amendment's passage, but its new release, while it mentioned reproductive health, was mum on the implications for abortion coverage.

"More than 90 percent of the care Planned Parenthood affiliate health centers provide is primary and preventive, and the doctors and nurses who deliver that care witness on a daily basis the real need to ensure that women have access to critical tests, screenings, and regular checkups," said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. "Women of childbearing age spend 68 percent more in out-of-pocket healthcare costs than men, in part because of reproductive health-related needs."

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