House Committee OKs Bill to Remove Abortion Funding From Obamacare

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 11, 2011   |   1:39PM   |   Washington, DC

A House of Representatives Committee on Friday approved legislation that would remove any potential abortion funding the Obamacare health care web site may allow.

The Protect Life Act, is one of three measures pro-life groups are supporting to remove governmental financial support for the aborton industry. Earlier this week, Republicans and Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on health sparred over the measure, HR 358, sponsored by the subcommittee’s chairman, pro-life Republican Rep. Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania.

Before the final vote on the measure, pro-life Republican lawmakers turned back weakening amendments sponsored by pro-abortion Democrats Henry Waxman, Jan Schkowsky and Elliot Engel.

Republican lawmakers pointed to the Stupak amendment the House added to its version of the Obamacare bill as proof there is substantial support for removing any concerns the Obamacare law will fund abortions while Democrats relied on scare tactics by saying the Protect Life Act would somehow result in women losing their ability to purchase health care insurance that may cover abortions with premiums.

“The Protect Life Act, in short, would  amend the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to continue the historical practice of prohibiting federal funds from being used on abortion services,” Pitts said today. “Unfortunately, the Stupak-Pitts provision was not included in final passage, and so this will seek to amend health care reform by statutorily putting into law what was overwhelmingly supported in this body and is supported by 60 to 70 percent of the American people.”

“The bill would also prevent government entities funded by the Affordable Care Act from discriminating against health care providers and professionals that do not participate in abortion. Further, the bill would allow individuals to purchase a separate abortion plan with private funds, and allow health insurance providers to offer separate plans for abortion coverage, so long as they don’t use federal funds to do so,” he added.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, a Republican, defended the measure, saying it would not only eliminate any abortion funding in the health care law but would also protect the conscience rights of medical workers who do not want to be i

Texas Republican Rep. Michael Burgess, chairman of the Congressional Health Care Caucus and a former OBGYN, also spoke in favor of the measure and said it was needed to attach the Hyde Amendment, which even some pro-abortion lawmakers support, to the Obamacare bill.

“I think it is important to codify with this language that we are responsible for the judicious use of taxpayer dollars,” Burgess said.

Helen Alvare, associate professor of law at the George Mason University School of Law, and a former spokeswoman for the pro-life office of the United States Conference of Catholic bishops testified on the pro-life side along with Douglas Johnson, the legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee.