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Obamacare's Post-Partum Abortion Requirement Riles Anti-Choice Foes And Catholic Church

Published January 29, 2014


Religious right critics of Obamacare have a new objection to the statute: the requirement that Catholic charities pay for what is known as MOPT – or Mother-Opted Post-Partum Termination.

Part-Partum-Abortion Criticized By Anti-Abortion ZealotsThe MOPT procedure has become the center of controversy after a little-known provision in section 7472(f)(1)(i) of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was discovered that requires Catholic charities to pay for MOPT’s for female employees covered under their health plans.

MOPTs are performed like a normal abortion procedure except due to the maturity of the fetus, it is released from the uterus naturally and a portion of its brain is extracted after outside the womb.  Normally, brain extraction is performed inside the womb, but since a woman exercises choice while the fetus is still in her body the procedure has been deemed medically appropriate by experts.

Anti-choice activists criticize MOPTs because they claim that after the fetus is out of the body the mother’s right to choose is relinquished.  Catholic leaders have been particularly vocal about MOPTs.  “While we understand that women have the right to abortions, we do not agree with this procedure,” said Sister Mary Elefanté of Catholic Charties of Delaware.

Women’s rights advocates are increasingly concerned that their right to choose – including their reproductive health funding under Obamacare – may be under threat.  “What about my rights?” asked Jenn Steinberg, president of the Coalition of Single Women for Abortion.  “If I make a decision with respect to my body, how my doctor carries out my decision is between me and my doctor,” she said.

Pres. Obama at a Womens' Right To Choose RallyStuart W. Lerner, MD, an obstetrician-gynecologist who has his own private clinic in Bethesda, Maryland, said that MOPT procedures are his fastest growing one.  “As long as the patient exercises her right to choose while the fetus is in the womb we can make whatever decisions we need to afterwards,” he said.  MOPT procedures provide flexibility because the mother can choose not to proceed after seeing the fetus in person.  Normally, in an abortion later in the term the brain is extracted while the fetus is in the womb.  “We can do the brain before or after, it's all the same,” said Lerner.

After the physician removes the portion of the brain, she or he carefully sutures the head back together and disposes of the fetus in the medical waste bin.

The White House has not sounded off on the MOPT controversy, but president Obama did release a statement on the White House Twitter feed that said, “Pres. always backs a woman's right to choose.”