South Carolina Panel OKs Bill for No Abortion in Obamacare

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 17, 2011   |   1:58PM   |   Columbia, SC

The South Carolina state legislature is closer to voting on a handful of pro-life bills thanks to a actions today by the House Judiciary subcommittee that approved a few measures dealing with abortion and bioethics issues.

The committee today approved a bill making it so abortion funding would not be part of the state health insurance exchanges set up under the new Obamacare health care reform law. The legislation would require women to seek supplemental policies if they want to have coverage for abortions paid for at the expense of policy holders. Separate premiums would have to be paid for the abortions.

The ban extends to the state exchanges the Obamacare legislation would set up because the funding for abortions would come at taxpayer expense through the exchanges, which would be funded with federal subsidies. Currently, abortion coverage is banned by a legislative proviso, not a law.

The House Judiciary subcommittee also approved a second pro-life bill that prohibits employers from firing or refusing to hire employees who object to participating in abortions or a number of practices, including working with embryonic tissue obtained by destroying human embryos, days old human beings. The Freedom of Conscience Act would allow medical workers like hospital workers, nurses, pharmacists and others to opt out of certain practices,such as providing the morning after pill that can sometimes cause an abortion.

“We’re trying to preserve the notion of the sanctity of life in our culture,” said state Rep. Greg Delleney, the Republican sponsor of the bill, according to The State newspaper.

Planned Parenthood Health Systems, a statewide abortion business, opposed the bill, saying it would somehow limit women’s rights to abortion.

The panel also approved a pro-life bill saying any unborn child who survives a failed abortion attempt can’t be treated like medical waste and must be given proper medical care and attention. The law expands the definition of “person” and “child” in all South Carolina laws to include unborn children who survive failed abortions or are born prematurely. The bill has been approved by the state House in past sessions only to see it stall in the state Senate.

Representative Durham Cole, R-Spartanburg, moved for a favorable report.  Rep. Delleney and Rep. Jim Harrison, R-Richland, and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, voted in favor.  Rep. Walt McLeod, D-Newberry, did not vote.  Rep. James Smith, D-Richland, was absent. The full Judiciary Committee will meet Tuesday, February 22, 2011, at 2:30 p.m. in room 516 of the Blatt Building to consider the bills.

The pro-life bills are supported by South Carolina Citizens for Life, the South Carolina Baptist Convention, the Catholic Diocese of Charleston, Palmetto Family Council, the Christian World View Center of North Greenville University, members of the National Association for Pro-Life Nurses and the Blessed Clemens von Galen Medical Guild of South Carolina (a guild of the Catholic Medical Association) among others.

In South Carolina, approximately 7,000 abortions were done in 2008, which is down significantly from the more than 10,000 done years ago — thanks in part to a number of pro-life laws the legislature has approved to limit abortions.

Under the new health care law, states will be in charge of their own health care exchanges that are available for individuals and small businesses.The exchange doesn’t go into effect until 2014 and states are filing lawsuits seeking to stop the pro-abortion health care bill in its other pro-abortion provisions entirety, but states are moving now to exercise their right to opt out of some of the abortion funding.

Denise Burke, an attorney with Americans United for Life, has explained the opt out clause contained in the Obamacare bill, which otherwise fails to contain sufficient limits on abortion funding.

“Specifically, the new law prohibits health insurers participating in the state-run health insurance exchange (scheduled to go into effect in 2014) from offering plans or policies that cover abortions except in rare cases in which the mother’s life is in danger,” she said.

She said the day after Congress passed the health care reform legislation, AUL made its “Federal Abortion-Mandate Opt-Out Act” available to lawmakers in all 50 states.

“We continue to work with dozens of states that are considering opt-out legislation either this year or when their legislative sessions reconvene in 2011,” she said.

There were 1,982 abortions done in West Virginia in 2008.

When Congress passed the government-run health care bill, it did so without any limits on abortion funding and language mandating taxpayer financing of abortion in certain circumstances.

Obama eventually issued a controversial executive order supposedly taking the abortion funding issue off the table.

However, virtually every pro-life group said it would not mitigate the abortion funding because it doesn’t have the effect of law, could be reversed in the future, and because it didn’t tackle much of the abortion funding in the bill. The Obama administration could also ignore the order and not put it in place when the health care law goes into effect.

Arizona, Tennessee, Mississippi, Missouri, and Louisiana have passed similar bills that have already been signed into law by governors in those states and several other states are expected to consider legislation in their upcoming legislative sessions. Governors in Oklahoma and Florida vetoed similar legislation.