A leading abortion rights group called on its members Sunday to pressure the White House to reverse course and make sure abortion coverage is included when new insurance coverage becomes available under the health care law President Obama signed last March.
"I am outraged that such a decision would come from a pro-choice president that we helped elect," Keenan said.
NARAL Pro-Choice America spokesman Ted Miller told Politics Daily that so far, the group has "channeled more than 30,000 messages to the White House," and will roll out more initiatives to drum up public pressure on the issue in the week ahead.
When the debate over the massive health care overhaul was in its final stages -- and Democrats were seeking to round up crucial votes -- the always contentious issue of abortion dominated the conversation due to the strong anti-abortion stance taken by Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan.
On March 24, the day after the bill was signed into law, Obama issued an executive order
affirming that the new health care law would continue to ban any federal money for abortions. The executive order was part of a deal with House anti-abortion Democrats whose votes were needed for the bill to pass the bill.
The Department of Health and Human Services and the states are in the process of writing regulations and developing plans to implement the new law.
Anti-abortion forces are worried that loopholes will be inserted in the regulations regarding abortion while abortion rights advocates, such as Keenan, are "outraged" that abortion coverage is banned under the newly-created "Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan
," which is meant to assist those who can't get or afford private health insurance.
Last Tuesday, the National Right to Life Committee, a leading anti-abortion organization, issued a statement
asserting that HHS "quietly approved a plan" submitted by Gov. Ed Rendell for Pennsylvania to "to set up a new "high-risk" insurance program under a provision of the federal health care legislation enacted in March "that will cover any abortion that is legal" in the state.
On Wednesday as this latest debate started, HHS spokesman Jenny Backus reaffirmed abortion coverage is not part of the new "Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan policy." She said, in a statement, that under the new health law as well as Obama's executive order, abortions will not be covered "in Pennsylvania and in all other states ... except in the cases of rape or incest, or where the life of the woman would be endangered."
Planned Parenthood said in a statement
, "The Obama administration has decided that no woman in the new high-risk insurance pools will be allowed to obtain abortion coverage beyond limited cases (rape, incest, endangering the life of the woman). The high-risk insurance pools are for some of the most medically vulnerable women in the country -- those with pre-existing conditions such as breast and ovarian cancer, AIDS, diabetes, and other conditions that may make pregnancy extraordinarily dangerous. These women will be locked out from abortion coverage, even if they pay for it out of their own pockets."
Keenan said in her Sunday e-mail that "a Stupak-style ban applies to women in new, temporary high-risk pools ... 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."