The leader of the Iowa Right to Life Committee is urging her members to lobby Iowa’s U.S. Senators to keep abortion out of the health care reform bill. Iowa Right to Life president Kim Lehman sent out an e-mail this week, including the office phone numbers for Chuck Grassley and Tom Harkin.
“I’m asking people to contact Senator Grassley and Senator Harkin to ask them to make sure that abortion mandates are excluded from the health care reform bill,” she says, “because if they’re not excluded, then they will be included when it comes right down to what happens to us as taxpayers.”
Lehman says anti-abortion forces fear the bill will force private insurance plans to cover abortions and that the current ban on taxpayer-funding for abortions could be abandoned. “And so we want the public to basically say, ‘Look, there is health care reform, but we don’t want to create new access with our tax dollars where we’re actually increasing the number of abortions in America,'” Lehman says.
Lehman says timing is important, because it appears Democratic leaders in congress want the health care reform bill passed by August.
“We believe that they’re trying to rush this through like the Bailout Bill’ so people can’t read the bills so people can’t read the bills and the public has not idea what’s going on ’til it’s too late,” Lehman says.
In 1976, Congress established a ban which does not allow federal funds to be used to pay for abortions unless the pregnant woman’s life is at risk or the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.
On the other side of the abortion debate, the National Abortion Rights Action League has sent e-mail to its members, too, urging them to contact senators and urge senators to ensure birth control and access to abortion are included in the health care reform bill.