HHS Considers Health Care Coverage for Fetuses

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has proposed a new regulation that would allow states to classify an “unborn embryo” as a “target low-income child” who is eligible for medical care under the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). HHS and White House officials claim the proposal is strictly an attempt to improve prenatal care for the working poor. Abortion rights activists, however, feel the measure is yet another attempt by the Bush administration to broaden protection for the unborn and restrict abortions.

“Basically what they’re trying to do is establish a word game,” said Feminist Majority President Eleanor Smeal. “Feminists are for covering prenatal care of poor pregnant women, but believe the language change without an increase in funding for the CHIP program itself is to establish rights for the “unborn” in preparation of reversing Roe v. Wade.”

Though the CHIP program does not insure pregnant women unless they are under age 19, states may offer prenatal care by requesting waivers from HHS.

The House already approved the Unborn Victims of Violence Act in April, which would make it a federal crime to harm a fetus during an assault on a woman. Conservatives in Congress are also attempting to ban late-term abortion procedures.


The Washington Post 7/7/01, AP 7/6/01, Feminist Majority Foundation

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