For months, we at Media Matters have been pushing back against the media myth that the Senate health care reform legislation's language on abortion -- recently enacted into law -- would expand federal funding for abortion beyond what had previously been permitted under the law. We noted that the bill bans federal funding for abortion except in cases currently allowed under the Hyde amendment: rape, incest, and conditions that endanger the life of the pregnant woman.
Earlier this week, the Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checking website Politifact.com confirmed our findings:
At the climax of the health care debate from the floor, House Republican Leader John Boehner said that even with the executive order from the president, the Senate bill would provide “taxpayer funding of abortions for the first time in 30 years.”
We don't agree. It's understandable that abortion foes opposed a proposal that gives more people the opportunity to obtain insurance that cover abortions. But it's another thing to say those abortion services would be paid with federal dollars. The Senate bill states very clearly that public funding through tax credits and government subsidies for elective abortion services offered in the exchange is prohibited. But more than that, the bill sets up a mechanism to ensure that abortion services offered in the exchange are paid entirely from patient premiums, premiums paid by people who have chosen a private plan that covers abortion. The executive order puts the weight of the president's word behind providing a way to ensure two checks go to insurers every month, so that abortion dollars and federal dollars are not co-mingled.
We think that's enough to back up Stupak's claim that, “There will be no public funding for abortion in this legislation.” But that's a conclusion we reached before the president promised an executive order, back when Stupak disagreed with us and insisted the bill would have had federal dollars subsidizing abortions. We don't understand how the executive order changes Stupak's logic on this issue, but no matter how he arrived as his conclusion, we think he's right now. And we rule his claim True.
The media has a responsibility to get the facts right on this issue. We will be watching to make sure they do.