Matthews continues to allow Stupak to misinform about abortion funding in the Senate health care bill


MSNBC Hardball host Chris Matthews allowed Rep. Bart Stupak (D-PA) to again falsely claim that his health care bill amendment would "maintain current law," even though many people have told Matthews on Hardball that it goes beyond current law in restricting abortion funding.

Stupak falsely claimed his abortion amendment "maintains current law"

From the March 3 edition of MSNBC's Hardball:

MATTHEWS: Do you believe the Democratic Party, the majority of the party you're in, is willing to go down to defeat on the major legislative issue of this presidency because of its pro-choice position?

STUPAK: No. No, because --

MATTHEWS: You don't think they're willing to go down to defeat?

STUPAK: No, because even if you look at the pro-choice letter that [Rep.] Diana DeGette [D-CO] and the others claim to have 40-some signatures on -- if you read that letter very carefully, it says, we must maintain current law. Current law. That's all the Stupak amendment does, maintain current law. Just take my name off it. Call the Hyde Amendment. Just maintain current law --

MATTHEWS: I know what the law says.

STUPAK: Put it in the health care act, and we're OK.

In fact, Stupak amendment exceeds restrictions under current law, alters status quo

NY Times: Amendment "reached far beyond Hyde and made it largely impossible to use a policyholder's own dollars to pay for abortion coverage." In a November 9, 2009, editorial, The New York Times wrote that the Stupak amendment to the House bill would make it "largely impossible to use a policyholder's own dollars to pay for abortion coverage" and "would prevent millions of Americans from buying insurance that covers abortions -- even if they use their own money." The Times noted that the amendment's supporters "reached far beyond Hyde and made it largely impossible to use a policyholder's own dollars to pay for abortion coverage" because the amendment "would ban the use of federal subsidies to pay for 'any part' of a policy that includes abortion coverage." As the Times noted, the Hyde Amendment "bans the use of federal dollars to pay for almost all abortions in a number of government programs."

Status quo currently allows people participating in federally funded plans to obtain abortions as long as funds are segregated. Under the Hyde Amendment, people participating in a government-administered health care insurance plan are allowed to use their own money to pay for abortion, but federal funding of abortion is forbidden. According to the Congressional Research Service, the Hyde Amendment was originally passed to prohibit federal funding for abortions through the Medicaid program and has since been expanded to other areas. Nevertheless, notwithstanding the prohibition on federal funding for most abortions under Medicaid, according to a September 1, 2009, study by the Guttmacher Institute, 17 states provide coverage under Medicaid for "all or most medically necessary abortions," not just abortions in cases of life endangerment, rape, and incest. Therefore, in 17 states, Medicaid, a federally subsidized health care program, covers abortions in circumstances in which federal money is prohibited from being spent on abortion.

Hardball guests have previously explained to Matthews that Stupak amendment exceeds current law

Hardball guests: Amendment goes "further" than status quo. Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America; New York magazine's John Heilemann; Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO); Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN); Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards; and the Chicago Tribune's Clarence Page have all said on Hardball that Stupak's amendment goes "further" than the "status quo" -- the Hyde Amendment.

Chris Matthews
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