Wisconsin Bill Would Stop State Abortion Funding in Obamacare

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 11, 2011   |   12:11PM   |   Madison, WI

A statewide pro-life group in Wisconsin is promoting newly-introduced legislation that would make it so the state doesn’t have to spend taxpayer funds to pay for abortions in the Obamacare health care law.

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.

The Obamacare legislation requires state health insurance exchanges created under the legislation to cover abortions, but the law allows states to opt out of requiring abortion coverage. 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.

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.

Wisconsin Right to Life today praised the introduction of Senate Bill 92, legislation that opts Wisconsin out of abortion coverage in the health care exchanges created by Obamacare. The authors of the legislation are Senator Rich Zipperer (R-Pewaukee) and Assembly Representative Robin Vos (R-Racine).

“Wisconsin Right to Life is deeply appreciative to Senator Zipperer and Representative Vos for introducing this important legislation,” Susan Armacost, Legislative Director of Wisconsin Right to Life, told LifeNews.com. “Wisconsin citizens should not be placed in the position of subsidizing abortion coverage.”

Armacost said the state insurance plan must meet the federally-prescribed compliance requirements in order to participate in the exchanges and the requirements include offering the essential health benefits package established by the federal Department of Health and Human Services, which could include abortion. Participating plans are eligible to receive federal subsidies for those who qualify for insurance under the exchanges and public money would be involved.

Armacost says the bill would conform to Wisconsin law on direct spending of state taxpayer funds for abortions.

“Since the late 1970s, Wisconsin law (s. 20.927) prohibits the funds of the state, a local government, or a long-term care district and federal funds passing through the state treasury to be used to pay for the performance of an abortion,” she explained.

Under the Zipperer-Vos legislation, a qualified health plan as defined in the federal law that is offered through any exchange operating in the State of Wisconsin may not cover any abortion whose performance is ineligible for funding under that current Wisconsin law.

Arizona, Tennessee, Mississippi, Missouri, Indiana 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. Other states such as South Carolina are working on similar legislation.