In the end, the issue of abortion did not derail health-care reform. But that’s what would have happened had the U.S. Catholic bishops and some hard-line antiabortion Protestant groups had their way.
The legislation that passed stipulates that individuals who receive insurance subsidies have to pay for abortion—or abortion coverage—out of their own pocket. This accounting system wasn’t enough to satisfy the bishops, though it was enough to meet the concerns of 60 leaders of religious orders, representing 59,000 Catholic nuns, as well as officials at the Catholic Health Association. “We believe [the bill] meets the test of no federal funding for abortion,” said CHA president Sister Carol Keehan shortly before Congress passed the bill on March 21.