New Congressional Bill Stops Abortion Funding in Obamacare

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 1, 2012   |   1:04PM   |   Washington, DC

One of the biggest reasons pro-life advocates oppose Obamacare is the abortion funding the national health care law mandates. Republicans in Congress are wanting to do something about it and have floated new legislation to prevent such funding in the state exchanges Obamacare creates.

More than 60 GOP members of the House have introduced the Stop Abortion Funding in Multi-state Exchange Plans (SAFE) Act, led by pro-life Rep. Todd Akin, a Missouri Republican. The legislation would block these health plans from offering elective abortions — keeping the law consistent with the Hyde Amendment after Democrats, when passing Obamacare, defeated an amendment to stop abortion funding.

The law created the insurance exchange system, requiring all 50 states to have an exchange up and running by 2014, or have the federal government run an exchange for it, and the bill would apply to those exchanges. Akin’s bill, H.R. 4971, says “no multi-State qualified health plan offered in an Exchange provides coverage of abortion” and contains language prohibiting the states from pre-empting the law and funding abortions on their own.

Americans United for Life Action President Charmaine Yoest joined Missouri Rep. Todd Akin for a news conference today asking members of Congress to pass the SAFE Act.

“The healthcare law signed by President Obama in 2010 marked the largest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade,” she said. “But it is not too late to change course and prevent damage that the law will cause.”

“Ensuring taxpayers are not forced to fund abortion is a bipartisan effort. Thanks to the leadership of Congressman Akin who introduced the SAFE Act—and the 61 original co-sponsors—Congress can begin to right the wrong of the healthcare law that expands both abortion and taxpayer funding of abortion,” Yoest added. “We all remember the day in March 2010 when House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told Americans ‘We have to pass the [healthcare] bill so that you can find out what is in it.’ What we have found in the law is a massive expansion of the taxpayers’ involvement with the abortion industry.”

“Even eleventh hour maneuvers to modify the healthcare law did not fool pro-life Americans—we recognized that the abortion-related provisions in the bill remained deeply flawed, and that President Obama’s Executive Order did little more than re-state those provisions,” Yoest continued. “That is why we need the SAFE Act.  The SAFE Act will make the multi-state plan provision of the healthcare law consistent with existing law—the Hyde Amendment and, notably, the Smith Amendment to the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program.  The Hyde Amendment and the federal employee program prohibit federal subsidies from supporting insurance plans that cover abortions, regardless of whether the federal dollars are used to directly pay for abortions.”

“We know that 7 out of 10 Americans do not want to see their tax dollars going to fund the abortion industry. AULA calls on Congress to pass the “SAFE Act” and protect the majority of Americans who—whether pro-life or pro-abortion—do not want to be entangled with abortion in the healthcare law,” she added.

Nestled within the “individual mandate” in the Obamacare act — that portion of the Act requiring every American to purchase government — approved insurance or pay a penalty — is an “abortion premium mandate.” This mandate requires all persons enrolled in insurance plans that include elective abortion coverage to pay a separate premium from their own pockets to fund abortion.  As a result, many pro-life Americans will have to decide between a plan that violates their consciences by funding abortion, or a plan that may not meet their health needs.

In March, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a final rule regarding establishment of the state health care exchanges required under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

As a knowledgeable pro-life source on Capitol Hill informed LifeNews, as authorized by Obamacare, “The final rule provides for taxpayer funding of insurance coverage that includes elective abortion” and the change to longstanding law prohibiting virtually all direct taxpayer funding of abortions (the Hyde Amendment) is accomplished through an accounting arrangement described in the Affordable Care Act and reiterated in the final rule issued today.

“To comply with the accounting requirement, plans will collect a $1 abortion surcharge from each premium payer,” the pro-life source informed LifeNews. “The enrollee will make two payments, $1 per month for abortion and another payment for the rest of the services covered. As described in the rule, the surcharge can only be disclosed to the enrollee at the time of enrollment.  Furthermore, insurance plans may only advertise the total cost of the premiums without disclosing that enrollees will be charged a $1 per month fee to pay directly subsidize abortions.”

The pro-life advocate told LifeNews that the final HHS rule mentions, but does not address concerns about abortion coverage in “multi-state” plans administered by the Federal Government’s Office of Personell Management (OPM).

“There is nothing in the Affordable Care Act to prevent some OPM (government administered) plans from covering elective abortion, and questions remain about whether OPM multi-state plans will include elective abortion,” the pro-life source said. “If such plans do include abortion, there are concerns that the abortion coverage will even be offered in states that have prohibited abortion coverage in their state exchanges.”

The final rule indicates: “Specific standards for multi-state plans will be described in future rulemaking published by OPM…”

Set to go into effect in 2014, the unconstitutional provisions found in Section 1303 of the Obamacare Act compel enrollees in certain health plans to pay a separate abortion premium from their own pocket, without the ability to decline abortion coverage based on religious or moral objection.

That provision was the subject of a legal document that Bioethics Defense Fund’s Dorinda C. Bordlee, lead counsel for the group, submitted to the Supreme Court in February.

“This violates the Free Exercise Clause because religious exemptions are made for groups such as the Amish who morally object to purchasing any insurance, but no exemptions are made for Americans who have religious or moral objections to abortion,” Bordlee said.

“President Obama’s healthcare overhaul includes an ‘abortion premium mandate’ that blatantly violates the conscience rights and First Amendment religious rights of millions of Americans,” AUL president Charmaine Yoest said. “Nowhere in the Constitution does it require Americans to violate their beliefs and pay for abortions.”

ADF Senior Counsel Steven Aden says Americans should not be compelled to pay for other people’s elective abortions.

“No one should be forced to violate their conscience by paying for abortions, but that’s precisely what ObamaCare does,” he explained. “ObamaCare requires that employees enrolled in certain health plans pay a separate insurance premium specifically to pay for other people’s elective abortions and offers no opt-out for religious or moral reasons. Such a mandate cannot survive constitutional scrutiny.”

BDF president and general counsel Nikolas Nikas said the individual mandate not only forces individuals into private purchases, it also effectively mandates personal payments for surgical abortion coverage, without exemption for an individual’s religious or moral objections.

He told LifeNews in an email, “Like a Russian nesting doll, the individual mandate has nestled within it a hidden, but equally unconstitutional scheme that effectively imposes an ‘abortion premium mandate’ that violates the free exercise rights of millions of Americans who have religious objections to abortion.”