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October 28, 2011

34,826 Americans Call on HHS to Protect Women’s Access to Abortion Coverage

NARAL Pro-Choice America organizes grassroots opposition to any additional restrictions on abortion coverage in the new health-care system

Washington, D.C. - Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, once again voiced concern over discriminatory and unfair restrictions on abortion coverage in the health-care law.

Keenan’s organization submitted comments signed by 34,826 Americans to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). HHS is currently considering how to implement a provision in the health-care law that imposes financial and administrative burdens on plans that offer, and for consumers who purchase abortion coverage in the state health-care exchanges. NARAL Pro-Choice America submitted formal comments reiterating the importance of implementing this provision in the least burdensome manner possible. Otherwise, the requirements could impose serious constraints on abortion coverage and cause women to lose ground in health reform.

“These restrictions treat abortion coverage as a separate and distinct - even stigmatized – benefit,” Keenan said. “Nowhere else in the law are individuals required to make separate payments for other sensitive, personal health services. We are urging the administration to ensure that bureaucratic obstacles don’t cause women to lose access to a full range of health-care services.”

The Affordable Care Act law, passed in March 2010, included an abortion-related provision authored by anti-choice Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb). The Nelson language requires certain insurance plans to process double the number of financial transactions and to establish two parallel accounting processes to track and deposit these additional payments.  Absent clear direction from HHS, these administrative burdens could severely limit women's ability to obtain abortion coverage within health-insurance exchanges. 

NARAL Pro-Choice America is leading a grassroots public-education and advocacy campaign to build support for and promote awareness of choice-related issues.

Keenan continues, “This provision may jeopardize private insurance coverage of abortion, coverage that most private insurers currently offer. These measures violate a principle on which we've been consistent and clear since the health-reform process started: women should not lose ground in the new health-care system.”

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