Federal Funds May Be Involved in Abortion Coverage for North Carolina Students
by Steven Ertelt
August 12, 2010
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — The response to a national controversy — generated with a pro-life student group uncovering information showing students who attend public universities in North Carolina will be forced to pay for abortions via their required student health care plan — has been swift.
Students for Life of America discovered the North Carolina Board of Governors will require all students enrolled in a University of North Carolina public institution, starting with the 2010-2011 school year, to have health insurance.
Students who do not already have private health insurance are required to buy a state selected policy from Pearce & Pearce, Inc — and it covers up to $500 toward elective abortions and has 80% PPO coverage for elective abortions.
Following SFLA’s national outcry, the University of North Carolina Board of Governors announced that they will allow students opposed to abortion to "opt-out" of paying for abortion coverage.
"Effective fall 2010, the University of North Carolina is implementing a ‘hard waiver’ student health insurance policy that requires students on our 16 university campuses to have creditable health care coverage," the board said. "What our students are required to do is have a health insurance plan that provides creditable health care coverage."
"Any student may choose to purchase health insurance elsewhere that does not provide elective abortion coverage. Students have until September 30 to waive coverage under the University-sponsored plan by providing evidence of other coverage," they said.
The University previously had hard-waiver student health insurance plans on 11 campuses and offered voluntary plans on another 5 campuses. All of these previous plans except the one at NC Central University included elective abortion coverage.
"Like the University plan, the State Health Plan includes elective abortion coverage for state employees," the board admitted.
The board also said its president, Erskine Bowles, an abortion advocate who will soon be taking a related position in the Obama administration, "directed Pearce and Pearce to contact via email all UNC students who have chosen to enroll in the University-sponsored plan for the fall 2010 semester in order to provide the opportunity for any student to opt-out of the elective abortion coverage."
Kristan Hawkins, SFLA executive director, applauded the move but still has significant reservations and raised an additional concern about the involvement of federal funds.
"The announcement by the UNC System shows the impact grassroots activism can have in effecting change. However, it is not a victory,’ she explained to LifeNews.com. "The UNC System is still considering abortion to be health care. Abortion is not health care neither for the pre-born child or his mother. Abortion should be removed from the UNC System completely."
She said the "significant" issue of using federal funds has yet to be addressed.
"Federal grant money is directed to accredited colleges and universities from U.S. taxpayers through the Federal Student Aid Program. Student eligibility for federal grants is determined by the difference in the students ability to pay and the total cost of attendance for the school. This amount equals the students eligibility for federal funds," she explained.
"As stated by the UNC System: the cost of their abortion health care plan, if the student chooses to keep abortion in their plan, is added to the students cost of attendance calculation. This in turn, increases the students need for federal funds," Hawkins said. "Because of this increase in need, additional federal funds could be directed to a student to help cover this increase in cost."
"This is using federal taxpayer money for abortion health care. This issue needs be addressed by the UNC Board of Governors," Hawkins added.
The quest could go further, based on SFLA’s uncovering of the situation and the details behind it, as the increased federal funding for students for college to help pay for abortion coverage in health care plans could violate the provisions of the Hyde amendment that prohibitions federal funding of abortions in some portions of the federal budget.
When it uncovered the abortion coverage, SFLA indicated earlier this week that the Pearce & Pearce policy costs students $744 per year or $375 per semester and the State of North Carolina will not be paying into the policy. Instead, students who are required to purchase the insurance will be required to pay the entire cost, unless they opt out, and part of the cost will go towards the payment of abortions for fellow students.
Sarah Hardin, the president of the Students for Life campus pro-life club at North Carolina State University, was shocked at the news and commented before the response from the Board of Governors saying students could opt out.
"When I learned a week ago that this mandatory health coverage included the coverage of an elective abortion, I was dumbfounded," she said. "As a pro-life student at NC State, I am dismayed that my classmates will not only be forced to purchase health insurance, but will also be forced to pay into a pool that will go to aborting the children of other North Carolina students."
SFLA has set up a new web site at www.noabortioninhealthcare.com dedicated to raising public awareness about the situation.
North Carolina residents, and others, can sign a petition opposing the policy and can send an email to the Chairman of the North Carolina Board of Governors, Hannah Gage, with the same message.
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