Welcome to AMSA's Health Policy and a Pint!

Health Policy and a Pint is an information source for members of the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) and anyone interested in health policy to discuss current topics in health policy over a glass of their favorite beverage in a fun and relaxing environment. We will be recommending articles monthly for your group to take to a bar, a park or anywhere you want to promote active and lively discussion. If you get fired up by what you read, we'll also give you the info to do something about it. So check back monthly, post your thoughts and raise a glass to your health!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Health Care Reform and Abortion

H.R. 3692 and abortion

What does the Stupak Amendment say?

Abortion Funding:

  • No federal funds authorized or appropriated by health reform can be used to pay for abortion
  • The public plan can only provide abortion coverage in cases of rape, incest, and when the life of the woman is in danger (similar to the current Medicaid restriction)
  • Individuals can purchase either a private insurance plan that covers abortion in the government-run marketplace, the Exchange, or supplementary abortion coverage “abortion rider.”
    • The ‘abortion rider’ is not available to anybody who purchases the public plan

Who is most likely to be impacted by the Stupak Amendment?

  • Any individual choosing to purchase health insurance through the Exchange will be tied by the Stupak amendment. People eligible to purchase through the Exchange include the following groups:
    • Uninsured individuals
    • People with individual health plans
    • People working for small business (starting in 2013)
    • People working for large companies (starting in 2015)

  • Medicaid recipients (status quo, abortion is currently restricted for Medicaid recipients under the Hyde Amendment except in cases of rape, incest or danger to the woman’s life).

Other points:

  • The Hyde Amendment (above) has to be renewed annually
  • The current language in H.R. 3692 codifies into federal law the restrictive abortion provisions, and they do not require annual approval.

What next?

  • The Senate has to vote on its health reform bill, which currently does not have the Stupak amendment language in it.
  • Once the Senate bill passes, it joins H.R. 3692 to Conference Committee to be merged into one bill

Want to take action?

Click here to send an e-mail to your Senators and Representatives, urging them to protect the reproductive rights of women:


The Stupak-Pitts amendment represents an unprecedented erosion of a women's right to choice and a dangerous expansion of the current restrictions on the use of federal funds for abortion with potentially devastating consequences for millions of low- and middle-income women.

This amendment goes further than any previous federal law to restrict access to abortion - and it's up to us to ensure it is removed before the legislation is enacted into law. It would prohibit millions of women from getting coverage for abortion in their health insurance plans, even if they pay for it themselves. This is a stunning blow to a woman’s right to choice in this country.

As physicians and physicians-in-training, we must continue to advocate for reform that will benefit all of our patients and our communities while not hesitating to speak against provisions like the Stupak amendment that will do more harm than good.

We must act now and tell our Senators and Representatives that the language in the House bill will cause women to lose coverage, that language should be changed and should not be included in the Senate bill.