Hyde Amendment Not Sufficient to Stop Abortion Funding in Health Care Measures
by Steven Ertelt
July 20, 2009
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Hundreds of thousands of Americans literally owe their lives to the Hyde amendment, budget language in Congress that has significantly reduced abortions by stopping federal taxpayer funding for them. However, the amendment doesn’t have the power to stop abortion funding in health care.
During the health care restructuring debate in Congress, pro-life groups have been pulling out all the stops to ensure it doesn’t cover abortions.
With President Barack Obama’s top budget chief making it clear abortions could be paid for or insurance coverage mandated under the government health care legislation, those pro-life groups and their allies in Congress are working overtime.
What they won’t have at their disposal to stop the pro-abortion Obama health care plan from moving forward is the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits Medicaid from funding abortions, according to analysis from Douglas Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee.
The tri-committee House health care bill that is the main legislation, HR 3200, authorizes additional Medicaid/CHIP funding, which Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates to be $438 billion over the next ten years.
However, the bill also authorizes the purchase of what the CBO estimates to be $773 billion over the next ten years in health care premiums and cost-sharing costs for individuals and families whose income is too high to qualify for Medicaid/CHIP.
"H.R. 3200 contains no limitation whatever to prevent the use of any of these funds to pay for elective abortion and to pay for insurance coverage of elective abortion," Johnson explains in analysis provided to LifeNews.com.
"H.R. 3200 would certainly result in federal funding of elective abortion on a huge scale."
With CBO estimating that 73 million people would be covered either by Medicaid or by the federal premium subsidies, "this would result in a great increase in the number of abortions a result directly contrary to Barack Obamas promises to pursue policies that would reduce abortions," Johnson says.
Although some backers of the health care restructuring bill in the House say the Hyde amendment would prevent abortion funding, Johnson says that’s not the case.
"This is a dodge. The Hyde Amendment is not a permanent law, but merely a ‘limitation amendment’ that is patched on to the annual appropriations bill for Health and Human Services," Johnson says.
Should abortion advocates in Congress attempt to overturn the Hyde amendment, its protections fail to cover the health care bill.
Johnson also says the Hyde amendment, even when it is in force, only to funds appropriated through the annual HHS appropriations bill (and, through a separate statute, to the Indian Health Service).
"But H.R. 3200 directly appropriates massive subsidies for premiums and cost-sharing that would not flow through the HHS appropriations bill and thus would not be subject to the Hyde Amendment, even in the short term," he says.
"Thus, the only way to prevent H.R. 3200 from resulting in massive federal subsidies for elective abortion is to add Hyde-type language to the bill itself, just as Congress did when it created the SCHIP program in 1997," Johnson concludes. "Unless such an amendment is adopted, a vote for H.R. 3200 is a vote for tax-subsidized abortion on demand."
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