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Both sides question health bill's abortion compromise

Washington Post, December 22, 2009

The abortion language that was added to the Senate's healthcare bill to win the vote of Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) has achieved a rare feat: It is drawing contempt from both sides. That could be taken as a sign that senators finally found an elusive compromise on a thorny issue. But serious questions are already being raised about how the new language would work in practice and whether it would even be feasible to implement. The long-standing ban on federal funding for abortion has complicated congressional Democrats' healthcare legislation. Medicaid bars federal funding for abortion, but 17 states and the District of Columbia allow the procedure for female Medicaid enrollees paid out of their own funds. It is harder to reach middle ground in the bill before Congress, which would provide federal subsidies to millions of people to buy private health insurance plans on a new marketplace, or "exchange."