Big Media Ignore the Devils in the SCHIP Bill's Details

On August 1, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a gigantic entitlement bill that would nearly double the number of American children covered by federal health insurance.  The bill also includes provisions that could lead to more abortions and may well put abstinence education in the hands of Planned Parenthood.

But if you get your news from the mainstream media, you wouldn't know anything about those pesky little details.

CBS Evening News with Katie Couric, Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Associated Press stories reported that 5 million more children would receive health coverage, that taxes would be increased on cigarettes and that some Medicare funding would be cut to pay for the massive $50 billion entitlement increase.

Oh, and they all mentioned that President Bush is likely to veto the bill and that the vote split on party lines.  CBS reporter Thalia Assuras closed her report with the specter of “kids (being) caught in the middle.”

While the mainstream media speculate about the possibilities of vetoes and whether a compromise can be worked out with the Senate's $35 billion version of the bill, they completely ignored provisions vitally important to social conservatives.

According to the Family Research Council (FRC) and Focus on the Family, the House's State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) bill could increase abortion and damage abstinence-only education efforts.

An alert issued by the FRC on August 1 stated, “In 2002 the President's Administration issued a regulation that defined a 'child' as being from conception to 18 years of age, a regulation that is known as the 'unborn child rule.' This regulation allowed States the option of covering the health care of the unborn child and has the benefit of covering the pregnant woman's health care as well.

“Unfortunately, pro-abortion forces oppose any reference to unborn children, and as they did during the battle over the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, they prefer instead to refer to 'pregnant women.' The new House bill changes the SCHIP program to cover health insurance for a 'pregnant woman,' rather than cover the child in the womb.”

The FRC alert went on to warn that this change in language undermines the “unborn child rule” and could “possibly allow funding for abortions in those States that include abortion as part of their Medicaid health coverage for pregnant women.”  In addition the House bill “contains language that actually forces States to cover 'family planning' services as part of their Medicaid programs.”

A second provision in the House's SCHIP package effectively gives states more money to fund Planned Parenthood, according to Focus on the Family.  The provision extends for two years Title V funding, generally the dollars that fund abstinence-only education, but allows them to be used for “comprehensive sex education.”

Comprehensive sex education would have to mention abstinence in the course curricula but the focus of these programs is more about contraception and safe sex practices.  Planned Parenthood provides educational resources in “communities across the country,” according to the organization's Web site.  That same Web site contains press releases that call abstinence-only education “dangerous” and that funding abstinence programs is “wasting money.”

In an article written for Citizenlink, Ashley Horne, a federal policy analyst for Focus Action said, “Comprehensive sex education gets funded over abstinence by a 10-to-1 margin.  Allowing abstinence money to be used for comprehensive sex ed is like having a banquet in front of you but then stealing food from your neighbor.”

So if the new House SCHIP bill makes it possible for states to use Medicaid money to fund abortions, a leading provider of which is Planned Parenthood, and it allows abstinence education funds to be used for comprehensive sex education, which is provided by Planned Parenthood, it seems that Planned Parenthood is one of the big winners in this new “Children's Health Insurance Program.”

Funny.  Didn't see that reported in the media.

Kristen Fyfe is senior writer at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center.