Obama HHS Paves the Way to Taxpayer Funding of Abortions

Opinion   |   Bill Saunders and Anna Franzonello   |   Feb 23, 2012   |   12:52PM   |  

Unfortunately, it comes as little surprise that the Obama Administration is prioritizing its abortion agenda. In fact, the recent life-ending drugs and devices coverage mandate from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) perfectly aligns with President Obama’s longstanding commitment to abortion-funding.

Furthermore, by failing to provide an adequate conscience protection, the HHS mandate places above the freedom of conscience, a principle enshrined in the First Amendment, a mere policy preference for “access” – something even the ACLU’s “Reproductive Freedom Project” has acknowledged is not a constitutional right.

President Obama ran for office on a promise to create an abortion-funding mandate in his health care plan. At a Planned Parenthood Action Fund event in July 2007, then-candidate Obama stated, “In my mind, reproductive care is essential care, basic care, so it is at the center, the heart of the [health care] plan that I [will] propose.”[1] Obama elaborated on the details of his plan, “What we’re doing is to say that we’re gonna set up a public plan that all persons and all women can access if they don’t have health insurance. It’ll be a plan that will provide all essential services, including reproductive services.” In addition Obama stated that under his plan, “insurers are going to have to abide by the same rules in terms of providing comprehensive care, including reproductive care…that’s going to be absolutely vital.” The next day, the Chicago Tribune reported that an Obama spokesman confirmed that “reproductive health services” included abortion.[2]

Now, by including ella (a drug chemically similar to the FDA-approved abortion drug RU-486)[3] in a no-cost-to-the-patient “preventive services” mandate, President Obama has secured—as promised— an abortion-inducing drug at the center, the very heart, of his health care plan.

Other FDA-labeled “contraceptives” included in the HHS mandate also have life-ending mechanisms of action. For example, Plan B (commonly referred to as “the morning after pill”) can kill a human embryo by preventing implantation.[4] Intrauterine Devices (IUDs) are also acknowledged to work not only by preventing conception, but by blocking implantation – the HHS guide to “Birth Control Methods” makes this life-ending point clearly: “If fertilization does occur, the IUD keeps the fertilized egg from implanting in the lining of the uterus.”[5] For hormonal IUDs the guide states, “It also affects the ability of a fertilized egg to successfully implant in the uterus.”[6]

Notably, the HHS mandate requiring coverage for these life-ending drugs and devices goes much further than subsidizing them with taxpayer dollars; it requires that nearly all health insurance plans provide them. Regardless of conscientious concerns, Americans will not be able to choose a health insurance plan that does not provide coverage for life-ending drugs and devices.

Pro-life Americans have not taken the anti-life mandate sitting down, and in the face of intense criticism, the Obama Administration has publicly “tried” to rework its sham of a conscience “accommodation” to “balance” “access” and freedom of conscience.

However, the “balance” should weigh clearly in favor of freedom of conscience since there is no constitutional right for subsidized life-ending drugs and devices. Even the ACLU’s “Reproductive Freedom Project,” dedicated to promoting abortion and “contraception,” acknowledges that “access” is not a constitutional right.[7] In literature addressing a pharmacist or pharmacy’s decision not to participate in contraception the ACLU states it “does not violate a woman’s federal constitutional rights. The U.S. Constitution imposes no limitations on nongovernmental institutions like privately owned pharmacies. Even if the refusal takes place in a state-owned pharmacy, a woman has no federal constitutional right to receive contraception.”

Dictating that private insurance plans cover life-ending drugs and devices as “preventive” health care for women is itself illogical and offensive. Moreover, by failing to provide a robust conscience protection, the HHS mandate is not only ill-advised, it is precisely the type of government coercion our Founders sought to prevent. Although the mandate was regrettably “expected” from the Obama Administration, it must be rescinded.

[1] Barack Obama Before Planned Parenthood Action Fund, available at www.imoneinamillion.com/video.php?candidate=obama_speech (last visited Feb. 22, 2012). Laura Escheverria, Barack Obama Before Planned Parenthood Action Fund (transcription), available at, https://sites.google.com/site/lauratech/barackobamabeforeplannedparenthoodaction (last visited Feb. 22, 2012).

2 Mike Dorning, Democrats Pledge Support for Wide Access to Abortion, Chicago Tribune, Jul. 18, 2007, available at https://articles.chicagotribune.com/2007-07-18/news/0707180134_1_abortion-rights-opponents-call-partial-birth-abortion-planned-parenthood-action-fund (last visited Feb. 22, 2012).

3 “The mechanism of action of ulipristal in human ovarian and endometrial tissue is identical to that of its parent compound mifepristone.” D. Harrison & J.Mitroka, Defining Reality: The Potential Role of Pharmacists in Assessing the Impact of Progesterone Receptor Modulators and Misoprostol in Reproductive Health, 45 Annals Pharmacotherapy 115 (Jan. 2011).

4 Plan B Approved Labeling, available at https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/nda/2006/021045s011_Plan_B_PRNTLBL.pdf (last visited Feb. 22, 2012). The FDA’s labeling acknowledges that Plan B can prevent implantation of a human embryo.

5 See https://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/birth-control-methods.pdf

(last visited Feb. 22, 2011).

6 Id.

7 See https://www.aclu.org/images/asset_upload_file119_29548.pdf; see also https://www.aclu.org/pdfs/reproductiverights/finalreport.pdf