A brochure from U.S. Rep. Paul Broun that hit constituents' mailboxes late last week implies that Democratic health care reform requires insurance plans to pay for abortions.
The opposite is true. The health care bill the House of Representatives passed Nov. 7 would not allow insurance plans sold through a proposed government-regulated health care exchange to cover abortions except in cases of rape, incest or when the life of the mother is in danger.
The mailer claims a "government run health care experiment ... federally mandates coverage of abortion."
The statements in the mailer are accurate, Broun spokeswoman Jessica Morris said.
"It states, 'Dr. Broun will fight to stop health care plans that: ... Federally mandates coverage of abortion,' and that is what he will continue to do," Morris said.
Some constituents who received the brochure complained it left the false impression that the House bill mandates abortion coverage.
"I think it's totally misleading," Athens resident John English said.
The mailer was finished two weeks ago, before the House passed an amendment to the health care bill by anti-abortion Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., Morris said. The amendment bars both the public option - a proposed government-run health care program - and subsidized plans offered by private insurers from covering most abortions.
The four-page color brochures were printed and mailed at taxpayer expense. They were sent to about 100,000 registered voters, Morris said.
Russell Edwards, a University of Georgia law student who runs an anti-Broun political action committee, called them a waste of tax money.
"Paul Broun Jr.'s use of taxpayers' funds and public resources for his own personal agenda is wrong," Edwards said. "His health care mailers are only meant to scare families in our district into giving him their money and their vote."
The Franking Commission, a bipartisan committee of lawmakers, vets all taxpayer-funded mass mailings from congressmen to constituents to ensure they are not too political.
Broun was criticized for his use of the franking privilege in early 2008, when he spent most of his office budget for the year to send about nine letters and brochures while in the midst of a hard-fought primary race.
"Dr. Broun values direct communication with his constituents and frequently sends important updates through the mail," Morris said.
The brochure also includes an outline of Broun's own health care bill and a survey that recipients can fill out and return to his office.