HHS Extends Health Care to fetuses.(NATION)

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), September 28, 2002 | Go to article overview

HHS Extends Health Care to fetuses.(NATION)


Byline: Amy Fagan, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The Bush administration said yesterday it would classify fetuses as unborn children as a way of providing more low-income women with prenatal care.

The change came in the form of a new regulation issued by Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy G. Thompson. It would allow states to provide health care coverage to unborn children - and thus to pregnant women - under the state Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).

The regulation also would allow states to provide this coverage regardless of the pregnant woman's immigration status, meaning that illegal immigrant women who are pregnant could receive prenatal and delivery care.

Mr. Thompson called it a "common-sense, compassionate" proposal.

"Prenatal care is one of the most important investments that we can make to ensure the long-term good health of our children and their mothers," he said. "It's the right thing to do for the child and the mother."

But pro-choice groups said it is simply a way to give rights to the unborn and consequently undermine abortion rights.

Elizabeth Cavendish, legal director of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, said the administration's goal is "establishing that embryos are persons under the law."

"What they're trying to do with this is not so much promote comprehensive health care for uninsured people, but to make a political statement about embryonic personhood," she said.

Mr. Thompson dismissed that. "This is not an abortion issue, this is a health issue," he said. "It's a health issue for the child. ... This is just taking care of poor mothers and poor children who need this help."

The new regulation was originally proposed at the beginning of the year. The final regulation will be published in the federal registry on Oct. 2 and will go into effect 30 days later. …

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