Since the Supreme Court's ruling in Roe vs. Wade, every federal health insurance program has become enmeshed in the debate over federal funding for abortion. This year's efforts to reform the healthcare system have triggered a new tussle, with opponents of abortion claiming that the proposals would change the long-standing policy against using federal tax dollars to terminate pregnancies. But the provision that antiabortion groups find so objectionable would actually have the opposite effect, forcing private insurers to go further to fund and account for abortion coverage separately from federally subsidized services.
U.S. law bars federal Medicaid dollars from being used to pay for abortions except when the pregnancies result from rape or incest or threaten the mother's life. It also prohibits insurance plans for military personnel, federal employees and lower-income children from covering abortion. This page has opposed these rules because they deter poor women from obtaining the constitutionally protected medical care available to women with means. Legislators in California and about a dozen other states agree, and they provide funding for elective abortions with their own states' Medicaid contributions.