Pennsylvania Senate OKs Cutting Obamacare Abortion Funding

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 7, 2011   |   5:06PM   |   Harrisburg, PA

The Pennsylvania state Senate today approved legislation that would have the state opt out of the abortion funding allowed under the Obamacare health care law President Barack Obama signed.

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.

The Pennsylvania Senate approved Senate Bill 3 on a 37-12 vote that lawmakers described as a common sense piece of legislation which would ensure that Pennsylvania is not forced into the abortion business as a result of so-called health care reform. The legislation now goes to the state House for consideration.

Senate floor later, Sen. Larry Farnese, D-Philadelphia, criticized the bill saying it would make it harder for women to get abortions.

“This is not a new or radical step for Pennsylvania, but rather an extension of the restrictions we already have in place for (Medicaid) and other taxpayer-subsidized programs,” countered the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Don White, R-Indiana.

The Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation applauded the passage and Charlene Bashore, legislative director of the group, told LifeNews, “Congress said states have the right to opt out of abortion coverage and we want to ensure that for the state of Pennsylvania.  This continues Pennsylvania’s long-standing policy of not using government resources for abortion.”

So far, 12 states have approved legislation opting out of the Obamacare abortion funding, including Arizona, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Tennessee, Utah, and Virginia.

Pennsylvania became the first state to attempt to fund abortions under Obamacare last July when it announced the Obama Administration announced it would give Pennsylvania $160 million to set up a new “high-risk” insurance program but Pennsylvania officials  quietly approved a plan submitted by an appointee of pro-abortion then-Governor Edward Rendell under which the new program will cover any abortion that is legal in Pennsylvania.

The high-risk pool program is one of the new programs created by the sweeping health care legislation, Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, President Obama signed into law on March 23. The law authorizes $5 billion in federal funds for the program, which will cover as many as 400,000 people when it is implemented nationwide.

“The Obama Administration will give Pennsylvania $160 million in federal tax funds, which we’ve discovered will pay for insurance plans that cover any legal abortion,” Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee, told at the time.

New Mexico and Maryland also tried to fund abortions through the program until National Right to Life blew the whistle and the Obama administration was forced to back down.

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.

A Quinnipiac University poll found that 67 percent of the Americans surveyed opposed funding abortion with federal funds under the health care law.