By Tom Curry National affairs writer
updated 8/31/2009 11:57:33 AM ET 2009-08-31T15:57:33

Claim:Under the proposed health insurance overhaul, tax dollars will be used to pay for abortions.
President Obama charged that one of the "fabrications" of the health insurance debate was that federal dollars could be used to pay for abortions in a new insurance system. But anti-abortion groups say the principal House insurance overhaul bill would allow for government-funded abortions. Some House Democrats also oppose the bill because they fear it could be used to pay for abortions.

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Is it fact or fiction?
A little of both. Taxpayer subsidies cannot be used to directly pay for abortions, according to the House Energy and Commerce Committee bill, H.R. 3200.

The key provision: the Capps amendment
The bill includes an amendment by Rep. Lois Capps, D- Calif., approved by a vote of 30 to 28, which says federal funds cannot be used to pay for abortions in any government-run plan created by the bill. According to Capps, apart from cases of rape or incest, or where abortion is necessary to save the life of the mother, only "private funds from the policyholders' own premiums" could be used to pay for abortions.

What are 'public funds'?
The premiums that policyholders will pay "are public funds once they go into the control of a federal agency," argues Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee, which opposes H.R. 3200. So, Johnson contends, public funds will be used to pay for abortions. Supporters of the Capps amendment argue that only a person's own money would pay for abortions.

The anti-abortion alternative
The House Energy and Commerce Committee, by a vote of 31 to 27, defeated an amendment offered by Rep. Bart Stupak, D- Mich., and Rep. Joe Pitts, R- Pa., that would have banned federal funds from being used "to cover any part of the costs of any health plan that includes coverage of abortion," except in cases where the mother's life was in danger, or in cases of rape or incest.

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