Wisconsin Senate OKs Bill to Not Fund Abortions in Obamacare

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 21, 2011   |   1:22PM   |   Madison, WI

The Wisconsin state Senate on Thursday voted for legislation that would make it so the state opts out of the taxpayer funding of abortions found in the Obamacare legislation. The bill now heads to the state Assembly, which is expected to approve the pro-life measure and send it to the governor.

The vote came across party lines, with 17 Republicans voting for the measure to not fund abortions with taxpayer dollars and 16 Democrats opposing it.

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 saidit 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.

Senator Rich Zipperer (R-Pewaukee) and Assembly Representative Robin Vos (R-Racine) put forward a bill that opts Wisconsin out of abortion coverage in the health care exchanges created by Obamacare.

Responding to yesterday’s vote, Susan Armacost, Legislative Director for Wisconsin Right to Life, told LifeNews her group is happy.

“Today, the State Senate took a major step forward in protecting Wisconsin taxpayers from having to pay for abortion coverage under the health insurance exchanges required under Obamacare,” she stated. “Wisconsin Right to Life applauds Senator Rich Zipperer and Rep. Robin Vos for sponsoring SB 92 and the Senators who voted in favor of it.”

“The federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), also known as Obamacare, was signed into law on March 23, 2010.  One of the provisions of the law requires the States to operate and maintain “health insurance exchanges.”  Insurance plans must meet the federally-prescribed compliance requirements in order to participate in the exchanges,” Amacost. “These requirements include offering the essential health benefits package established by the federal Department of Health and Human Services.   Participating plans are eligible to receive federal subsidies for those who qualify for insurance under the exchanges.”

“With today’s action, Wisconsin is on the way to continuing its decades-long public policy history to prohibit public funding of abortion,” continued Armacost.  “ We look forward to Assembly action to pass SB 92 and the bill being signed into law.”

During the hearing, Zipperer told legislators that Wisconsin would be following the lead of several other states that have passed similar legislation. 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. Governors in Oklahoma and Florida vetoed similar legislation.