Jessica Arons writes for RH Reality Check that the Obama Administration has applied what amounts to the Stupak amendment to the interim high-risk insurance pools created in the Affordable Care Act, banning abortion services coverage in them.

This week, a commotion [1] arose over the question of whether Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plans, also known as high risk pools [2], can include abortion coverage. The Obama Administration responded immediately by imposing a total ban on abortion coverage in the pools that echoes the Stupak Amendment [3], even though nothing in the law requires such action.

PCIPs are temporary health insurance pools that states or the federal government must establish or expand in every state to cover people who do not currently qualify for individual health insurance because of a preexisting condition. PCIP coverage will expire in 2014 when enrollees become eligible for the new health insurance exchanges that will become operational that year. PCIPs will be funded with a combination of federal, state, and private money.

Women entering these plans are, by definition, those who have experienced serious medical conditions—so serious that insurers are unwilling to sell them insurance. In other words, those who get pregnant are already at a heightened risk for needing an abortion for health reasons when compared to the general population.

Read the whole thing. This is really outrageous and women’s groups are up in arms. I expect it to draw a lawsuit from states which allow abortion services coverage; Massachusetts, and its strongly pro-choice Attorney General Martha Coakley, would be a possibility. Some states will run the high-risk pools with federal participation, while the federal government will run others. There’s a rape and incest exception written into the rule, but not an exception for the health of the mother.

The most important thing here is that this is not what the ACA mandated:

But here’s the catch, nothing in federal law actually restricts the use of federal or state money for abortion in PCIPs.

The language that was inserted by Sen. Ben Nelson into the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that prohibits federal money from being spent on abortion in circumstances beyond the Hyde Amendment [7] exceptions of life, rape, and incest clearly applies only to plans operating in insurance exchanges.

Sec. 1303 of the PPACA says a state may elect to prohibit or allow “abortion coverage in qualified health plans offered through an Exchange” and that, subject to whether a state has made such an election, “the issuer of a qualified health plan shall determine whether or not the plan provides coverage of [abortion] services.” If a qualified plan decides to offer coverage of abortion beyond the Hyde exceptions, it must collect separate premiums from each enrollee to pay for abortion coverage and all other coverage, and it may not pay for abortions with federal tax credits or cost-sharing reductions that were allocated under the PPACA for the purpose of subsidizing premiums for plans offered in the exchanges. There are no other restrictions on abortion funding contained in the PPACA.

The Executive Order [...] contains no such statement indicating that it might cover more than the addressed items, namely the exchanges and the CHCs. In fact, when the Executive Order was signed, it was widely seen as simply reiterating what was already in the PPACA and current law. Indeed, abortion opponents repeatedly lambasted it as a “worthless piece of paper.”

I guess it wasn’t so worthless. Outrageous.