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Fact-checking Romney health plan, abortion

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich Thursday night criticized former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney because his health reform law called for the use of taxpayer money to fund abortions.

“I am for right to life; Romney-care includes tax-paid abortions,’’ Gingrich said at a town hall in Lancaster, N.H.

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The statement is correct as far as it goes, but the impression it might have created - that Massachusetts taxpayers did not subsidize abortions before Romney’s health reform law of 2006 - is not correct.

For three decades, the state has financed abortions through its Medicaid program.

In 1981 a state court ruled that the state could not deny payments for abortions if it also provided for pregnancy-related conditions.

In April 2002, when Romney was running for governor, he said in response to a questionnaire from a local branch of what was formerly known as the National Abortion Rights Action League that he supported Medicaid funding of abortions.

Under the 2006 reform law championed by Romney, subsidies of abortions were extended to subscribers of the new Commonwealth Care program, whose incomes are too high to qualify for Medicaid but not high enough to afford unsubsidized insurance.

Donald MacGillis can be reached at d_macgillis@globe.com.
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