March 5, 2010
Pro-Life Leaders Fight Health Care over Taxpayer-funded Abortion
Updated: Friday, March 5, 12:30 p.m.
President Obama, calling for a vote on health-care legislation by mid-March, has upped the stakes for his presidency over so-called Obamacare, which prolife leaders say will provide for the biggest expansion of abortion services in American history. (See analysis of the Senate and House bills below.)
Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life, put out an urgent video message early this morning and is featured in the Wall Street Journal's Friday edition.
Here are excerpts from Yoest's commentary:
It's now becoming clear that Barack Obama is willing to put everything on the table in order to be the president who passes health-care reform. Everything, that is, except a ban on federal funding for abortion.... The president's latest proposal mirrors legislation that has passed the Senate, which doesn't include a Hyde Amendment, and would inevitably establish abortion as a fundamental health-care service for the following reasons:
• It would change existing law by allowing federally subsidized health-care plans to pay for abortions and could require private health-insurance plans to cover abortion.
• It would impose a first-ever abortion tax—a separate premium payment that will be used to pay for elective abortions—on enrollees in insurance plans that covers abortions through newly created government health-care exchanges.
• And it would fail to protect the rights of health-care providers to refuse to participate in abortions.
A handful of prolife Democrats hold the fate of this legislation in their hands. A new poll indicates, if these incumbents vote for Obamacare, many voters in their districts will be sufficiently unhappy to vote them out in the November general election.
Michigan Democrat, Rep. Bart Stupak, has been the most visible of these conservative Democrats. So far, he's not waffled that clear language be included to ban abortion services under the legislation's health care provisions.
If you have an appetite for understanding how House Speaker Pelosi will get Obamacare passed. Here's a blog entry that explains the latest strategy and counter-strategy on Capitol Hill. How Pelosi Will Game the Stupak 12.
Friday, noon, update:
CT has received a copy of a two page document from a law professor at Washington and Lee University School of Law, Dr. Timothy S. Jost. In his document, he provides this analysis:
There are only four perceptible differences between the Senate and House bill in their treatment of abortion.
o First, the House bill under the Stupak amendment provides that if a health plan is purchased using federal support, abortion coverage must be purchased with private funds under a separate supplemental policy. The Senate bill also prohibits the use of federal funds to purchase abortion coverage, but takes a different approach. If federal premium credits or cost-sharing reduction payments are used to purchase a health plan, the plan must collect a separate privately-paid premium to cover the abortion coverage from the enrollee or enrollee’s employer. The amount of the premium must fully cover the cost of the abortion coverage and may not take into account savings to the plan from the plan not having to pay for prenatal care, delivery, or postnatal care when abortions take place. The funds must be kept in a separate account used solely for abortion coverage. State insurance commissioners must ensure that health plans comply with the segregation requirements in accordance with generally acceptable accounting principles and circulars on funds management from the OMB and GAO. Concern has been expressed that plans might use accounting practices that, despite this oversight, allow them to subsidize abortion coverage from federal funds, but if they want to do this for some reason, they could also do it under the House bill. Requiring a separate abortion policy rather than a separate premium is an administrative technicality. It merely requires one more piece of paper. It has also been argued that employees of small businesses will be forced by their employers to pay for abortion coverage through the exchange, but under section 1312 of the Senate bill, an employer cannot choose a health plan for an employee, employees are free to choose their own plan within a tier of coverage specified by the employer. No one will have to purchase abortion coverage under the Senate bill who does not want it, just as under the House bill.
o Second, the Senate bill goes beyond the House bill in permitting the states to absolutely prohibit the sale of plans through the exchanges that cover abortion. That is, under the Senate bill, a state may prohibit not only plans that receive a public subsidy from covering abortion, they may also prohibit plans that do not receive a public subsidy but are sold through the exchange from covering abortion. The CBO estimates that 6 million Americans will purchase unsubsidized plans through the exchanges. The House bill does not explicitly allow the states to do this.
o Third, the Senate bill, but not the House bill, prohibits plans from advertising the separate cost of their abortion coverage. This provision is presumably intended to keep plans from competing with each other by making abortion coverage attractive.
o Fourth, the Senate bill, but not the House bill, provides for $25 million a year in grants to the states for assisting pregnant and parenting teens and women. These grants would go to institutions of higher learning, high schools, and community centers that offer pregnant and parenting teens and women the support that they need to get an education and to function.
* * *
Click here to add your voice to the debate via the White House comment line.