Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift Wrong: Hyde Amdt Doesn’t Stop Abortion in Health Care

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 31, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift Wrong: Hyde Amdt Doesn’t Stop Abortion in Health Care

by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 31
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — In the latest example of the mainstream media covering up what pro-life advocates already know and some media outlets have admitted, Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift maintains that the Hyde amendment would stop abortion funding in health care. But a pro-life expert says that’s not the case.

Clift’s weekend column for the weekly magazine claims "opposition forces" have been trying to ‘spread misconceptions" about the government-run health care plan funding abortions.

Clift’s contention is that the Hyde Amendment, passed in the 1970s to stop abortion funding only in the Medicaid program, will block abortion funding in the health care bill.

"It has been the law for more than 30 years to disallow federal money to pay for abortions through the Medicaid program as part of the health services it provides for low-income women," she writes.

"There has been no serious effort in the last three decades to dislodge the Hyde amendment, and it is certainly not part of the current health-care debate. But that hasn’t stopped critics from suspecting that Democrats are looking for a back-door way to fund abortions," Clift claims.

Douglas Johnson, the legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee, says Clift’s analysis is "very tendentious" and that her column reads more like a "Planned Parenthood fundraising letter" than a serious news article attempting to separate fact from fiction.

"Clift’s observations about the Hyde Amendment are, I am afraid, a big red herring," he tells

"The Hyde Amendment is not a government-wide law. It is a limitation, renewed year to year, that applies only to funds that flow through the annual Health and Human Services appropriations bill — most importantly, funds for the long-established Medicaid program," Johnson explains.

Johnson says the government-run health care bills in the House and Senate create new programs that do not fall under the jurisdiction of the Hyde Amendment.

The first program is a national health insurance plan run directly by the federal government (called "the public option") and the second is a program to provide subsidies to help tens of millions of people buy health insurance.

‘The funds to establish these new programs, and the funds that these new programs would expend, would not flow through the HHS appropriations bill and would not be governed by the Hyde Amendment," he said.

So what law would guide abortion funding in these new programs?

The Capps Amendment, which a House committee added to HR 3200 this summer, would set forth the guidelines that Johnson says allow expansive abortion funding.

"Under the Capps Amendment, the Obama Administration would be explicitly authorized to pay for all abortions, from day one, under the big new ‘public option’ program," he tells "This means that a person would not be allowed to enroll in the new government plan unless he or she is willing to pay an additional premium to cover the cost of elective abortions — in effect, an abortion surcharge."

"Indeed, the Capps Amendment explicitly requires that the federal official who runs the program must calculate the total cost of abortions and increase the premium for all enrollees enough to pay for them," he adds.

"The amendment specifies that this surcharge cannot be less than $12 per enrollee per year, but the amendment does not set an upper limit. Again, this premium specifically for elective abortions is not optional," he adds.

"Thus, under the Obama-backed bill, a federal agency would be writing checks to abortionists to pay for elective abortions, with funds drawn on a federal Treasury account," Johnson concludes. "This is ‘government funding of abortion,’ pure and simple."

"A vote for H.R. 3200 is indeed a vote for government funding of abortion on a huge scale," he says.

Related web sites:
National Right to Life –
Documentation –

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