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Abortion wars intensify over healthcare reform

Debate is raging over whether Congress is expanding abortion access at taxpayer expense. It threatens to consume health reform efforts this fall.

The town hall meetings held during Congress's August recess, such as this one in Boynton Beach, Fla., Aug. 19, have been marked by acrimony and concerns about health reform legislation. So far, abortion access has not been the main flash point at these events, but that debate is starting to heat up and could yet threaten reform measures.

Brandon Kruse/The Palm Beach Post/AP

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Efforts to reform the healthcare system have added new spark to America’s long-running abortion debate.

Anti-abortion groups are posting videos and running ads saying that health-reform legislation in Congress would mandate federal funding of abortions. Pro-abortion rights groups – and President Obama – say that’s false. Two independent truth-squad groups, and, also call the claim false, but Politifact acknowledges that the issue of federal subsidies for abortion is a more difficult question.

Thus is launched the latest round in the abortion wars – one that threatens to consume the reform effort this fall.

“The abortion issue is a very serious one for Christian conservatives and a potential deal breaker for healthcare reform,” says John Green, an expert on religion and politics at the University of Akron, in Ohio. “It is much more serious potentially than the ‘death panel’ claims if it involves actually paying for abortions.”

Efforts to stay 'abortion neutral'


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