House Committee Votes to Stop Abortion Funding in Obamacare

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 20, 2012   |   1:33PM   |   Washington, DC

A U.S. House committee voted today for an amendment to a bill that would ensure the Obamacare health care law can’t be used to facilitate taxpayer funding of abortions.

Despite claims from pro-life Democrats who voted for the Obamacare bill, the law allows for abortion funding and pro-life groups warned about such abortion funding during the debate leading up to its passage. In the Senate, Democrats turned back the Nelson amendment to stop taxpayer funding of abortions in Obamacare and the final bill Congress approved and President Barack Obama signed never contained any abortion funding limits.

Although there is a chance the Supreme Court may overturn the law or substantial portions of it, and although Mitt Romney could begin the process of scaling it back or repealing it if Republicans capture the Senate in November, pro-life lawmakers want to ensure Obamacare can’t fund abortions if part or all of the law remains in place.

To that end, pro-life Rep. Alan Nunnelee, a Mississippi Republican, on the Appropriations Committee, floated an amendment GOP lawmakers backed today to stop the Obamacare abortion funding. It would extend the current ban in place preventing taxpayer funding of abortions in the health care plans of federal employees to Obamacare and the state health care exchanges it would create.

The amendment was approved on a 28-20 party-line vote with all Republicans favoring the pro-life amendment and all Democrats opposing it. The Hill provided coverage of some of the debate that took place during committee consideration.

Reps. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) argued that the amendment is “mean-spirited” and part of a Republican “war on women.”

“Extremists are hell bent on denying health services,” Lowey said.

The GOP said that there is nothing “mean-spirited” about protecting unborn children.

“This is about promoting life,” Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ga.) argued.

On September 9, 2009, President Barack Obama addressed a joint session of Congress and claimed about the Obamacare legislation: “And one more misunderstanding I want to clear up—under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions, and federal conscience laws will remain in place.” Republicans say the amendment holds Obama accountable to that.

The amendment makes it clear that no funds authorized or appropriated by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), including tax credits and cost-sharing reductions, may be used to pay for abortion or abortion coverage. It specifies that individual people or state or local governments must purchase a separate elective abortion rider or insurance coverage that includes elective abortion but only as long as that is done with private funds and not monies authorized by Obamacare.

Obama officials rely on the disproved argument that Obamacare, and a subsequent executive order Obama signed related to it, prohibit taxpayer funding of abortions under the law, even though pro-life groups almost unanimously say the bill and the order are not sufficient to stop abortion funding.

The pro-life movement has already worked to stop taxpayer funding of abortions that states attempted to implement under Obamacare. The Obama administration came under heavy fire from a pro-life group that discovered, in three states, officials had approved paying for abortions under new high risk insurance programs created under the national health care law. The National Right to Life Committee exposed the abortion funding and the Obama administration responded at first by claiming the executive order Obama signed prohibits the funding NRLC uncovered. Then, Obama officials revised the statement to say they promised the high risk insurance programs would not fund abortions in Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Maryland or any other states.



“All the major pro-abortion groups are now openly proclaiming what National Right to Life said all along — neither the law Obama signed, nor his executive order on abortion, prohibit federal funding of abortion in the high-risk program,” Douglas Johnson, the legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee who uncovered the abortion funding, previously said.

“In fact, the executive order only addressed two specific provisions of the 2,000-page health care law — and it does not resolve even those two provisions in a satisfactory manner,” Johnson added.