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House Votes Next Week on Bill to Stop Abortion in Obamacare

by Steven Ertelt | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 10/6/11 12:53 PM

National

The House of Representatives will vote next week on legislation that would stop abortion funding in Obamacare, the national health care plan that contains no limits on taxpayer funding of abortions.

H.R. 358, Protect Life Act, will likely come up for a vote on the House floor next Thursday after pro-life lawmakers fended off numerous hostile amendments from pro-abortion members of Congress during the committee markup. Capital Hill sources informed LifeNews today that they expect pro-abortion lawmakers to offer many of those weakening amendments that would water down the bill on the House floor.

The Protect Life Act makes it clear that no funds authorized or appropriated by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), including tax credits and cost-sharing reductions, may be used to pay for abortion or abortion coverage. It specifies that individual people or state or local governments must purchase a separate elective abortion rider or insurance coverage that includes elective abortion but only as long as that is done with private funds and not monies authorized by Obamacare.

The bill also specifies that insurance issuers may offer health plans that include elective abortion and may offer separate elective abortion riders, so long as they ensure PPACA funds are not used for premiums or administrative costs. The bill also clarifies that issuers who offer elective abortion coverage must also offer a qualified health benefits plan that is identical except that it does not cover elective abortion.

The pro-life measure also ensures that state laws “protecting conscience rights, restricting or prohibiting abortion or coverage or funding of abortion, or establishing procedural requirements on abortion” are not abrogated by Obamacare. It also makes it so any state or local governments receiving funding under Obamacare may not subject any health care entity to discrimination or require any health plan to subject any entity to discrimination on the basis that it refuses to undergo abortion training, refuses to require abortion training, refuses to perform or pay for abortions, or refuses to provide abortion referrals.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, a Republican, defended the measure, saying it would not only eliminate any abortion funding in the health care law but would also protect the conscience rights of medical workers who do not want to be involved in abortions and “ensures that private insurance companies are not forced to cover abortion.”

Republican Rep. Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania, the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on health, is the chief sponsor of the measure.

During the committee hearing earlier this year, Helen Alvare, associate professor of law at the George Mason University School of Law, and a former spokeswoman for the pro-life office of the United States Conference of Catholic bishops testified on the pro-life side along with Douglas Johnson, the legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee.

On the pro-abortion side, Sara Rosenbaum, chairwoman of the Department of Health Policy at George Washington University testifed again for committee Democrats. Rosenbaum was embarrassed on Tuesday in the hearing on the taxpayer funding abortion ban when she was unable to answer questions about whether gruesome late abortions should be funded with taxpayer dollars.

The pro-life group Catholic Advocate Voice today launched a web site, ProtectLifeAct.org designed to give Americans the opportunity to join together to demonstrate their support for the legislation.

“We have said for months relying on an Executive Order is not effective in protecting the sanctity of life in the health care law,” said Catholic Advocate Voice Vice President Matt Smith. “‘The Protect Life Act’ is a positive step in restoring the Hyde amendment language to the health care bill and protecting the unborn.”

He told LifeNews.com, “The Protect Life Act was re-introduced in the House of Representatives on January 20, 2011 to amend the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) to prohibit federal funds from being used to cover any part of the costs of any health plan that includes coverage of abortion services. The bill also provides conscience protection for any institution or individual refusing to undergo training in the performance of induced abortions, require or provide such training, or refer for such training.

“Any pro-life Member of Congress who voted for the health care reform law should support this bill,” added Smith. “The Executive Order was a bait and switch recently confirmed by the President’s former chief of staff. The Protect Life Act will finally codify these protections and remove any doubt about taxpayer funded abortions opposed by an overwhelming majority of Americans.”

The Protect Life Act has been endorsed by the USCCB, the Catholic Health Association (CHA), and numerous national and state pro-life organizations and leaders.

ACTION: Contact your member of the House at http://www.house.gov to urge strong support for the Protect Life Act and opposition to any weakening amendments.