President Obama promised Americans last year that if we liked the insurance we had then, we could keep it. Thanks to Bart Stupak, that promise now only applies to men.
For some of the rest of us, though, the language that Stupak and Senator Ben Nelson shoved into the bill to let anti-abortion forces sleep peacefully knowing that somehow, somewhere, a woman in need would be forced to carry a child to term means that women are losing their private coverage.
An obscure part of the law allows states to restrict abortion coverage by private plans operating in new insurance markets. Capitalizing on that language, abortion foes have succeeded in passing bans that, in some cases, go beyond federal statutes.
"We don't consider elective abortion to be health care, so we don't think it's a bad thing for fewer private insurance companies to cover it," said Mary Harned, attorney for Americans United for Life, a national organization that wrote a model law for the states.
That's right: the anti-abortion groups, having won on the federal level, are taking the battle to the state level to actively prevent all insurance companies from covering abortion.
And, worse yet, they are winning:
Since Obama signed the legislation law March 23, Arizona and Tennessee have enacted laws restricting abortion coverage by health plans in new insurance markets, called exchanges. About 30 million people will get their coverage through exchanges, which open in 2014 to serve individuals and small businesses.
In Florida, Mississippi and Missouri, lawmakers have passed bans and sent them to their governors. Most of the states allow exceptions in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother. Insurers still could offer separate policies to specifically cover abortion.
Three other states may act this year - Louisiana, Ohio and Oklahoma. Overall, there are 29 states where lawmakers or public policy groups expressed serious interest, Harned said.
Tennessee's ban contains no exceptions for rape, incest or the life or health of the mother.
Many states are also moving to restrict all insurance companies from providing abortion coverage, and coverage of the issue led yet more states to follow the federal standard and eliminate abortion coverage in state employees' insurance plans. Since abortion foes just can't manage to convince us to believe their religious tenets, they'll keep doing everything in their power to make sure that the law requires we adhere to their beliefs anyway. God Bless America (but not all the Americans in it, apparently).
Abortion Foes Capitalize On Health Care Law [Associated Press]