Senate Bill Introduced to Cut Abortion Funding in Obamacare

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 4, 2011   |   3:49PM   |   Washington, DC

On the heels of the House voting for legislation to ban taxpayer funding of abortions, a group of Senate lawmakers introduced a companion bill that would codify longstanding policy preventing taxpayer funding of abortion and apply it to Obamacare.

A group of Republican senators including Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma), Roy Blunt (R-Missouri), Marco Rubio (R-Florida) and Kelly Ayotte (R-New Hampshire), today introduced the Protect Life Act (S. 877).

“A strong majority of the American people do not believe that scarce taxpayer dollars should be used to fund abortions.  This common-sense legislation would ensure that doesn’t happen with respect to the highly-partisan health law,” Hatch said in comments to

Coburn added, “Forcing Americans to pay for abortion services with their own dollars is a grave abuse of government authority. The administration’s track record of ambiguity in this area underscores the need for federal legislation clarifying, once and for all, that public funds will not be used to pay for abortion services under the new health law.”

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the national health care law President Barack Obama signed, allows taxpayer-funded abortions through insurance policies, the pre-existing condition insurance plans, federally qualified health centers, and health plans administered by the federal government. The legislation’s various loopholes and direct appropriation of funds to new mandatory health programs mean that substantial amounts of taxpayer dollars are not subject to the annual pro-life appropriations rider, commonly known as the Hyde Amendment.

Furthermore, the health law does not fully protect health care professionals and entities who are morally opposed to abortions, and leaves them vulnerable to discrimination for refusing to perform abortions.

“While we will continue the important work of fighting to repeal ObamaCare, Senator Hatch’s bill is a common sense piece of legislation that clearly states that no taxpayer money should be used to fund abortion as part of the new health care law,” said Senator Rubio.

Senator Ayotte added, “Taxpayer dollars shouldn’t be used to fund a practice that millions of Americans find deeply troubling. While repealing the national health care law remains my ultimate goal, stopping federal money from financing abortions is an urgent priority. In addition to safeguarding taxpayer resources, this bill also preserves the Hyde-Weldon conscience protections for physicians who choose to not provide abortion services.”

The Protect Life Act guarantees that no taxpayer dollars flow to cover elective abortions by applying the longstanding policy of the Hyde Amendment to the new health care law and provides protections for health care providers who are opposed to abortions. The legislation would eliminate the accounting gimmick in the bill to create real separation by requiring abortion plans to be sold separately from health care plans receiving federal dollars.  This protects Americans from being forced to pay an “abortion surcharge” in order to obtain a health care plan. It also closes a loophole in PPACA to ensure that state laws restricting abortion or protecting conscience rights will not be preempted by federal law.

The bill also restricts any federal bureaucrats or political appointees from mandating private abortion plans to cover abortion and amends PPACA to offer comprehensive and permanent pro-life protections, consistent with longstanding public laws and the bipartisan Stupak Amendment. It also prevents the Office of Personnel Management from contracting with or administering health plans that include abortion.

The legislation, which mirrors an amendment Hatch introduced when the Senate Finance Committee considered the health law, has also been cosponsored by Senator Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and a large group of Republican lawmakers.

Joining him and other lead co-sponsors are: Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), David Vitter (R-La.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), John Boozeman (R-Ark.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), John Thune (R-S.D.), James Risch (R-Idaho), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho).