Health care legislation before Congress would allow a new government-sponsored insurance plan to cover abortions, a decision that would affect millions of women and recast federal policy on the divisive issue. Advocates on both sides are preparing for a renewed battle, which could jeopardize support for President Obama's health care initiative. "This is a sticking point," says a pro-life advocate. "We don't want health reform to be the vehicle for mandating abortion."
Federal funds for abortions are now restricted to cases involving rape, incest, or danger to the mother's health. Abortion opponents say those restrictions should carry over to any health insurance sold through a new marketplace envisioned under the legislation, in which people would choose private coverage or a public plan. But pro choice supporters say that would have the effect of denying coverage to millions of women who now have it through workplace insurance.