CBO: GOP abortion bill would raise deficit

A bill that would ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy could cause Medicaid spending to rise by as much as $500 million over the next decade, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated Tuesday.

The GOP-backed measure would ban abortions after 20 or more weeks of pregnancy unless it’s the result of a reported rape, reported incest against a minor or is necessary to save the mother’s life. 

CBO estimates the bill would lead to additional births, 45 percent of which are paid for by Medicaid, the agency said. Based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CBO estimates 10,000 abortions annually take place after 20 or more weeks of pregnancy.

It’s unclear, however, how many additional births could result from the ban.

“If 90 percent of women who would have sought an abortion 20 weeks or more after fertilization instead were to seek earlier abortions, federal spending would rise by about $100 million over 10 years,” CBO said. “If only half of those women were to obtain earlier abortions, then federal spending would rise by nearly $500 million over 10 years.” 

To create a central estimate, CBO said it assumes that three-quarters of abortions that would normally occur after 20 weeks or more of pregnancy would take place earlier if the bill were enacted. CBO, therefore, predicts federal spending for Medicaid would increase by $235 million between 2015 and 2025. As a result, CBO said federal budget deficits would increase by $75 million over that 10-year period.

The House is slated to consider the legislation on Thursday, which will coincide with that day’s annual March for Life in Washington. Thousands of people are expected to protest the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling.

Ten states already ban abortions at 20 weeks of pregnancy or after, according to the Guttmacher Institute.