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Giffords Deceives Re: Abortion in HR 3200

Rep. Giffords sent a mass response to constituents who have asked her about taxpayer-funded abortions. It was so plainly designed to deceive, I felt compelled to respond with the following.

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Hello Representative Giffords,

Thank you for taking the time to respond. However, my question remains unaddressed. I asked if you would support any bill that allows for funding of abortions. Though this reply has a lot of information, that question was not addressed.

I’ve been very appreciative of the last two communications you have sent out. Though the communications were plainly slanted toward your own opinions, I could believe that full deception was not intended. But this one seems designed to be completely deceptive. You spend several paragraphs explaining the 1976 ban, yet you failed to mention that the 1976 ban does not apply to HR 3200. You also declare: “nothing within the coverage mandates abortion coverage,” which is true, but that isn’t saying much. The bill also doesn’t mandate coverage for swine flu, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be covered.

HR 3200 does in fact allow for taxpayer-funded abortion. Yet your communication seems designed to persuade otherwise.

Please, either prove me wrong by showing how the 1976 ban applies to HR 3200, or notify your constituents that HR 3200 does allow for taxpayer-funded abortion.

From: Representative Gabrielle Giffords [mailto:az08ima@mail.house.gov]
Sent: Thursday, August 20, 2009 3:02 PM
To: Mr. T.
Subject: From the Office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords

August 20, 2009

Dear Mr. T.,

Thank you for contacting me about family planning in relation to health insurance reform.  Studies have demonstrated that the health of a woman directly impacts the health of her relatives.  We need to focus on prevention and outreach to improve health care for women in order to have healthier families in Arizona.

Beginning in 1976, federal law banned public funding of abortions except in cases of rape, incest or life endangerment for certain federal programs such as Medicaid.  The TRICARE system, which covers active and retired members of the military and their families, pays for abortions only when the mother’s life is in danger.  Military hospitals are not permitted to perform abortions, even if they are privately paid for, except in cases of life endangerment or rape or incest.  Similarly, the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, which covers nine million federal workers and their dependents, is prohibited from paying for insurance coverage of abortions, with the same exceptions as those in the original 1976 law.

However, abortions are covered for most Americans who have private, employer-based insurance.  A Guttmacher Institute survey found that 86 percent of employment-based health plans cover medication and in-clinic abortion.  Five states (Idaho, Kentucky, Missouri, North Dakota and Oklahoma), restrict private insurance plans’ coverage of abortion; additional coverage that includes the procedure is available for an extra fee.  And 12 states restrict abortion coverage in plans for public employees.

Within the debate of health insurance reform, there has been a lot of misinformation about the federal plan and coverage of abortion procedures.  Let me be clear: nothing within the legislation mandates abortion coverage. Please be assured that as health insurance reform turns to the full House for consideration, I will keep your thoughts in mind regarding family planning provisions.

The decision to have an abortion is one of the most difficult decisions a woman can face.  However, I feel we can find common ground on the need to reduce the number of abortions in this country.  We must work to improve and expand contraceptive and abstinence education. In addition, we must ensure that all women have access to high quality affordable healthcare to help them through their pregnancy.  We need to work together on these critical issues.

I always appreciate hearing from constituents, like you, who are informed and interested about the important issues affecting Arizona and the nation.  My job as your representative is to help you connect with federal agencies, access services and get your questions answered thoroughly.  Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if you require assistance.

To receive regular e-mail updates on my work as your U.S. Representative, click here or visit www.giffords.house.gov to opt-in to my e-newsletter. It allows me to keep Southern Arizonans, like you, informed about the most recent activities in the House of Representatives and upcoming public forums I am sponsoring in the district.

Sincerely Yours,

Gabrielle Giffords
Member of Congress

Washington DC
Office

1728 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone:(202) 225-2542
Fax: (202) 225-0378

Tucson
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Tucson, AZ 85712
Phone:(520) 881-3588
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Sierra Vista, AZ 85635
Phone:(520) 459-3115
Fax: (520) 459-5419

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