Right to Life: Will Tell Pro-Lifers Vote for Senate Health Care Bill is Pro-Abortion

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 1, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Right to Life: Will Tell Pro-Lifers Vote for Senate Health Care Bill is Pro-Abortion

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
March 19
, 2010

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — The National Right to Life Committee sent a letter to members of the House today telling them that millions of pro-life advocates will be properly informed of how they vote on the Senate health care bill and told that such a vote is a vote to expand abortions and abortion funding.

The letter is the final plea to House members to vote against the Senate bill that funds and promotes abortions, or a procedural motion to deem it passed.

"A vote for the Senate-passed health bill (H.R. 3590) is a vote for the most expansively pro-abortion legislation ever to come before the House of Representatives, since Roe v. Wade, and will be accurately so" to pro-life advocates, NRLC officials say in the letter LifeNews.com obtained.

"We respectfully urge that you vote against this legislation and against any
measure or procedure that might be employed in an attempt to move it towards the President’s desk," Right to Life asks.

On the other hand, should lawmakers vote against the Senate measure, NRLC says they can expected to be greeted with heartfelt thanks from the majority of Americans, who are pro-life on abortion.

"Pro-life citizens across America know that this is a pro-abortion bill. They know, and they will be reminded again and again, which members of the House deserve the gratitude of the pro-life movement for standing strong on this historic vote," NRLC said.

Although a handful of small dissident Catholic groups have confused lawmakers about the pro-abortion nature of the bill, National Right to Life says its provisions are unmistakably pro-abortion.

"The bill is riddled with provisions that predictably will result in federal subsidies for private insurance plans that cover abortion (some of which will be administered directly by the federal government), direct federal funding of abortion through Community Health Centers, and pro-abortion federal administrative mandates," the letter says.

"In recent weeks, some organizations and individuals have insisted that various clauses in the Senate bill would prevent these pro-abortion policy effects," the letter says. "In reality, however, the purported protections in the Senate bill are all very narrow, riddled with loopholes, and/or rigged to expire."

"As a result, when you vote on H.R. 3590, you are voting on whether to approve a panoply of provisions that will be employed in the future to expand access to abortion on demand," NRLC tells House members.

Partial text of the NRLC letter LifeNews.com obtained Friday morning after the jump:

A vote to approve H.R. 3590 whether through adoption of a
self-executing Rule or otherwise is a vote for the following
abortion-related policies:

(1) Direct funding of abortion through the Community Health
Centers program. The Senate bill directly appropriates $7 billion
for Community Health Centers (CHCs), unconnected to any
restriction on the use of these funds for abortion. In recent
days, some backers of H.R. 3590 have asserted that none of the
1,250 federally funded CHCs provide abortions — but a few
minutes on the web site of the Reproductive Health Access Project
should suffice to cast great doubt on that claim:

Also, an internal Health and Human Services memo has asserted
that a federal regulation would prohibit any CHC from using the
new funds, appropriated by H.R. 3590, for abortions. This
assertion cannot be relied upon; it rests on a circular argument.
The cited regulation is based on the Hyde Amendment, which
applies only to funds that flow through the regular annual HHS
appropriations bill. But the Senate language quite deliberately
creates a new direct-appropriation funding pipeline outside of
the annual appropriations process, and therefore untouched by the
Hyde Amendment. Any lawmaker who does not want to read in the
future that CHCs are providing abortions, with federal funds
appropriated through the new funding pipeline created by this
bill, must insist that the pro-life policy be written in (which
is what the House did when it adopted the Stupak-Pitts

NRLC has posted a more detailed analysis of the CHC issue,
including rebuttal to those who claim that this is not a
legitimate concern, here:

(2) Other direct appropriations not covered by abortion
restrictions. The Senate bill contains additional pools of
directly appropriated funds that are not covered by any
limitations regarding abortion, including $5 billion for a
temporary high-risk health insurance pool program (Sec. 1101 on
pages 45-52) and $6 billion in grants and loans for health co-ops
(Sec. 1322, pp. 169-180). Only bill-wide, permanent language,
such as the Stupak-Pitts Amendment, can ensure that none of the
vast amounts of federal money authorized and appropriated through
the Senate bill are tapped by pro-abortion political appointees
and bureaucrats to pay for abortion.

(3) Federally administered abortion plans. The Senate-passed bill
would create a new program under which the federal Office of
Personnel Management (OPM) would administer two or more national
(multi-state) insurance plans. (See Section 1334.) The bill
provides that at least one such plan would be subject to
limitations on abortion coverage, implying that other federally
administered plans could cover elective abortions, or perhaps
even be required to do so by the federal administrator. This is a
sharp break from longstanding federal policy, adopted by
Congress, under which plans that participate in the
OPM-administered Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program
are prohibited from covering elective abortions.

Also, even the purported requirement (pages 2087-2088) that the
OPM program offer one pro-life plan is rigged to expire each
year; this requirement will remain in force only if pro-life
forces prevail annually in preserving pro-life language on an
unrelated annual appropriations bill. (4) Federally subsidized
abortion plans. The Senate bill (Section 1303, page 2069)
contains the objectionable Nelson-Boxer language, under which
private plans that cover elective abortion would qualify for the
federal subsidy, but every enrollee in such a plan would find
himself or herself subject to a requirement that he or she make a
separate payment into a fund used exclusively for elective
abortions an abortion surcharge. This requirement would apply to
anyone who enrolls in a subsidized plan that covers elective
abortions, which would surely include many people who would learn
of the abortion surcharge only after enrolling, but who would
have no choice other than to pay the abortion surcharge or see
their entire health coverage lapse.

In contrast, under the House-passed Stupak-Pitts Amendment, a
citizen who takes advantage of the new premium-subsidy program
would not be required to help pay for anyone else’s abortions,
which is the approach consistent with the principles that govern
current federal health programs, such as Medicaid and the Federal
Employees Health Benefits program.

(5) Authorities for pro-abortion mandates. The Senate bill
contains a bewildering array of provisions that grant authority
to the Secretary of Health and Human Services and other federal
entities to issue binding regulations on various matters. (One
analyst recently wrote that the Senate bill contains more than
2,500 references to powers and responsibilities of the secretary
of health and human services, to say nothing of other federal
authorities.) Some of these provisions could be employed in the
future as authority for pro-abortion mandates, requiring health
plans to cover abortion and/or provide expanded access to
abortion, unless there is clear language to prevent it.

For example, under the Mikulski Amendment (Section 1001, pp.
20-21), adopted by the Senate on December 3, 2009, the Department
of Health and Human Services could force every private health
plan to cover elective abortions merely by placing abortion on a
list of preventive services as Senator Ben Nelson pointed out in
a statement in the December 3 Congressional Record, explaining
his vote against the Mikulski Amendment, in which he also noted
that Senator Mikulski had declined to accept a suggested revision
to exclude abortion from the scope of this authority.

While the Senate bill does contain some anti-mandate provisions,
our analysis finds that these clauses are worded in such a way
that they control only specific provisions of the bill (e.g., the
reference to essential health benefits on page 2070), or are
ambiguous in their scope.

(6) Open door to future abortion funding in Indian health
programs. Both the House-passed and Senate-passed health bills
revamp and reauthorize all Indian health programs. In the House
bill, these programs are permanently barred from providing
elective abortions (by the Stupak-Pitts Amendment).

In the Senate bill, there is no such prohibition, but merely a
policy-neutral clause (Section 10221, pp. 2175-2176) that punts
the abortion policy, requiring that it be set annually on an
appropriations bill. The Senate omitted the necessary pro-life
language even though a permanent Hyde Amendment had won approval
by the Senate the last time that the Indian health
reauthorization (S. 1200) was on the Senate floor in amendable
form (the Vitter Amendment, adopted February 26, 2008). (The
House never acted on S. 1200.)

(7) Missing abortion nondiscrimination (conscience) language. The
House-passed bill contained a codification of the Hyde-Weldon
language (H.R. 3962, Section 259), which would prevent government
actors from penalizing health care providers who refuse to
participate in providing abortions. This language was not
controversial in the House indeed, Speaker Pelosi had included it
in H.R. 3962 even before the House added the Stupak-Pitts
Amendment. But pro-abortion senators blocked its inclusion in the
Senate bill. The so-called conscience protections in H.R. 3590
(e.g., on page 2076) are exceedingly narrow.

Related web sites:
National Right to Life – https://wwwnrlc.org
NRLC letter – https://www.nrlc.org/AHC/NRLCToHouseOnHealthBill.pdf

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