There is No Middle Ground, Health Care Bill Will Fund Abortions Or It Won’t
by Charmaine Yoest
March 5, 2010
LifeNews.com Note: Charmaine Yoest is the president of Americans United for Life. The editorial originally appeared in today’s edition of the Wall St. Journal.
It’s now becoming clear that Barack Obama is willing to put everything on the table in order to be the president who passes health-care reform. Everything, that is, except a ban on federal funding for abortion.
Last September, the president promised that "no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions, and federal conscience laws will remain in place." Yet the legislation most likely to move forward in Congress would be the single greatest expansion of abortion since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.
The White House knows how to turn Mr. Obama’s September commitment into legislative action. I met with senior White House officials and told them that only adding a so-called Hyde Amendment to the health-care reform bills would fulfill the president’s promise to protect Americans from subsidizing abortion.
The Hyde Amendment dates back to the 1970s, when congressional leaders discovered that Medicaid was paying for nearly 300,000 abortions a year. This had not been an intended outcome of the Medicaid program, which was created in 1965 with strong bipartisan support. So in 1976 Rep. Henry Hyde introduced an amendment to the Health and Human Services appropriations bill prohibiting taxpayer funds from paying for abortions.
Similar amendments have been added to health-care bills ever since. Without specific language prohibiting the practice, history has shown that the courts or administrative agencies end up directing government dollars to pay for abortions.
For example, in the 1996 case Planned Parenthood v. Engler, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals found that "under Medicaid, certain categories of medical care are mandatory." The court then found that abortion "fits within many of the mandatory care categories, including ‘family planning,’ ‘outpatient services,’ ‘inpatient services,’ and ‘physician services.’" In short, the court created a mandate for funded abortions through Medicaid if the Hyde Amendment is ever eliminated.
Over the past year, language similar to the Hyde Amendment was crafted by Reps. Bart Stupak (D., Mich.) and Joe Pitts (R., Pa.) and inserted into the health-care bill that passed the House. When asked about the Stupak-Pitts Amendment in November, Mr. Obama talked around the issue. He said that "there is a balance to be achieved that is consistent with the Hyde Amendment." When asked if Stupak-Pitts struck this "balance," the president replied "not yet."
That’s an odd reply. The question of abortion funding doesn’t have any Zen to it: The funding is either prohibited or it’s not.
In November, presidential adviser David Axelrod, on CNN’s "State of the Union," also talked around the Hyde Amendment, saying that the president "doesn’t believe this bill should change the status quo as it relates to the issue of abortion." But then Mr. Axelrod claimed that "this shouldn’t be a debate about abortion" before concluding that there were discussions in Congress about "how to adjust [the abortion language bill] accordingly."
Apparently, his definition of "adjust" means opening up the spigot for the abortion lobby. The president’s latest proposal mirrors legislation that has passed the Senate, which doesn’t include a Hyde Amendment, and would inevitably establish abortion as a fundamental health-care service for the following reasons:
It would change existing law by allowing federally subsidized health-care plans to pay for abortions and could require private health-insurance plans to cover abortion.
It would impose a first-ever abortion taxa separate premium payment that will be used to pay for elective abortionson enrollees in insurance plans that covers abortions through newly created government health-care exchanges.
And it would fail to protect the rights of health-care providers to refuse to participate in abortions.
The president’s plan goes further than the Senate bill on abortion by calling for spending $11 billion over five years on "community health centers," which include Planned Parenthood clinics that provide abortions.
The bottom line is that the president wants to deploy words that sound soothing like "balance" and "adjust." Meanwhile, the courts are rendering precedent with stark words like "mandatory."
When confronted by House Minority Leader John Boehner about abortion funding during the health-care summit last week, the president dropped his head and looked down at the table. How revealing.
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