By Kathleen Gilbert

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 13, 2009 ( – As the Republican Party leads the fight against federal funding of abortion in health care legislation, the Chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC) has ordered the immediate discontinuation of abortion coverage for his own employees after the coverage was publicized in a news report Thursday.

“Money from our loyal donors should not be used for this purpose,” Steele said in a statement following a Politico report that revealed the existence of elective abortion coverage in the RNC plan. “I don't know why this policy existed in the past, but it will not exist under my administration. Consider this issue settled.”

Politico confirmed that elective abortion coverage had been available to GOP staff through its Cigna insurance plan since 1991. 

In a memo to nationwide committee members following the Politico report, RNC Chief of Staff Ken McKay said Chairman Steele “had already called for an official review of our health insurance policy along with a number of other operational items.”

“The review of our health insurance policy has been underway for some time and that review continues,” wrote McKay.  “I can assure you that the Chairman takes this issue very seriously.”

The GOP traditionally upholds a pro-life platform, one that Steele has vowed to strongly maintain as a pro-life Catholic.  Nonetheless, Steele has earned sharp criticism from pro-life leaders for his statements on abortion – which appear largely guided by his stated priority of widening the party base – since his ascendency to the chairmanship in January.