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Obama Admin Accused of Ignoring Hyde Amdt on Abortion Funding

by Steven Ertelt | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 3/11/11 12:30 PM

National

A pro-life group that uncovered how the University of North Carolina was requiring students to pay for abortions under a student health care plan says the Obama administration may be ignoring the Hyde Amendment.

Last year, Students for Life of America discovered that the UNC System was automatically enrolling their students in a health care plan that covered elective abortions. After working with UNC students and leading an effective grassroots campaign, SFLA forced the UNC Administration to modify its policy and allow students to “opt-out” of the abortion coverage.

After the expose’ and the followup actions, SFLA president Kristan Hawkins said she was worried that federal funds could have been involved in paying for the abortions, contravening federal law under the Hyde Amendment.

“Federal grant money is directed to accredited colleges and universities from U.S. taxpayers through the Federal Student Aid Program. Student eligibility for federal grants is determined by the difference in the student’s ability to pay and the total “cost of attendance” for the school. This amount equals the student’s eligibility for federal funds,” she explained at the time.

“As stated by the UNC System: the cost of their abortion health care plan, if the student chooses to keep abortion in their plan, is added to the student’s “cost of attendance” calculation. This in turn, increases the student’s need for federal funds,” Hawkins said. “Because of this increase in need, additional federal funds could be directed to a student to help cover this increase in cost.”

Congresswoman Virginia Foxx of North Carolina sent the Department of Education a letter in October asking Obama administration officials if they were aware of the abortion coverage included in the University of North Carolina System’s mandatory student health care policy and if they could prove that taxpayer funds were not paying for the abortion coverage.

On February 15, the U.S. Department of Education answered the letter. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan wrote, “…the Department has not issued any regulations, guidance, or other official policy with regard to the Hyde amendment, nor has the Department relayed any information regarding the Hyde Amendment to colleges and universities that participate in the Title IV and HEA programs.”

That prompts more concerns for Hawkins.

“The Department of Education is not upholding federal law which clearly states that taxpayer money is not to be used to pay for elective abortions,” she told LifeNews.com yesterday. “By not providing oversight, the Department of Education is allowing taxpayer money to fund elective student abortions at the University of North Carolina as well as in dozens of others universities across the country. Abortion is not health care and should not be a pre-requisite for learning.”

Hawkins is also worried that the potential violations could be occurring at other federally-funded colleges and universities.

In January, SFLA released a health care study of the 200 largest universities in the United States. Of the 200 schools, 194 had school-sponsored health care plans for students. Eighty-six (44%) of the 194 school sponsored plans covered elective abortions, and 38 schools automatically enrolled their students in an abortion health care plan.