President Obama and a lot of other fans of the legislation Congress has been working on for health-insurance reform have consistently insisted that there's no plan in the works to have abortions paid for by federal tax money. In his latest volley, the president called pro-lifers' claims to the contrary not true, even a fabrication intended to "discourage people from meeting ... a core ethical and moral obligation."
It's taken them too long, but Factcheck.org has finally chimed in on this issue to confirm almost everything the pro-life side has been saying. Just because it doesn't say the word 'abortion' in the bill doesn't mean it won't cover abortion as part of reproductive health. Given the history of what that term has been used to mean, it almost certainly would be used for that and certainly could be used for that. It doesn't technically mandate such coverage, at least in current forms, but it's hard for me to believe that the people who keep calling this charge a lie are telling the truth when their main argument is the absence of the word 'abortion'. It took the Hyde Amendment to prevent government funding for abortion in the current system. Why wouldn't it take something similar in a new plan that has no such ban?
Now those who think there is a moral obligation for a government health care program to cover abortions should have the freedom to pursue such a policy. But in our political system the way to do that is to propose it openly and not deceive people into thinking something they might support is something other than what it really is. I suspect those who see that as a moral obligation have realized that they can't get it passed if they're honest. So they think the obligation to do it outweighs the obligation to be honest with the voters about what they're doing.
Update: Serge observes something else that's important here. Unless we're going to be so anti-feminist as to define pregnancy as unhealth, the explicit motivation for this bill doesn't support including abortion and indeed undermines it. Starting from the premise that we have a moral obligation as a society to provide basic health care for everyone, then you might think it follows that we ought to treat all illnesses and have the top 10% of earners pay for most of it. But it doesn't follow that such a moral obligation could include something that isn't about health at all. Some do see such a moral obligation with abortion, but if so then it isn't about health care. You don't generally make a pregnant woman more healthy by aborting her pregnancy, even if you might want to argue that it has other benefits. So health insurance reform should not make it even possible that money earmarked for health care should go to something that isn't about providing for someone's health.