Judge Strikes Down Trump Rule Protecting Americans From Funding Abortions Under Obamacare

National   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Jul 13, 2020   |   10:36AM   |   Washington, DC

A federal judge blocked another pro-life rule from President Donald Trump’s administration Friday that would have protected Americans from funding abortions through Obamacare without their knowledge.

U.S. District Judge Catherine Blake sided with pro-abortion groups, arguing that the transparency rule would create “unreasonable barriers” to healthcare, CNN reports.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) rule requires requires Obamacare plans that cover elective abortions to collect a separate payment for that coverage. Under the Obama administration, insurers were allowed to collect payments together in violation of statutory language. The new Trump administration rule ensures that women on Obamacare plans pay for elective abortions themselves, rather than American taxpayers, and that people know if their insurance covers abortions.

Earlier this year, Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union and seven state pro-abortion leaders filed a lawsuit challenging the HHS rule. They claim the separate billing requirement is too burdensome and could lead to millions of people losing their health insurance.

Blake agreed, arguing that the rule “makes it harder for consumers to pay for insurance because they must now keep track of two separate bills.” Her ruling argued that women are in danger of losing “abortion coverage if states allow issuers to drop the coverage and if issuers decide that the ‘separate billing’ rule is too burdensome,” according to the report.

The rule was scheduled to go into effect Aug. 26. The Trump administration likely will appeal the ruling.

Pro-life leaders have said the rule increases transparency and protects taxpayers.

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In 12 of 24 states and the District of Columbia that provide taxpayer-funded Obamacare insurance plans, 80% or more of those plans cover elective abortions. In eight of those locales, every single Obamacare plan covers elective abortion – though taxpayers may not know it.

Jennifer Popik, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee, said the pro-life rule corrects a “bookkeeping gimmick” in Obamacare.

“The Trump administration regulations simply aim to enforce the minimal requirements included in the plain language of the statute,” Popik said. “Americans should know if and when they are paying for abortion coverage, and have the ability to see what that coverage costs.”

But on Friday, the judge argued that the rule could cause confusion and “may lead to some enrollees losing health insurance. … even if enrollees are not confused, they will still have to spend extra time reading, understanding, and paying two separate bills each month (or arranging through autopay for the two bills to be paid).”

Pro-abortion groups celebrated the ruling, arguing that the killing of unborn babies in abortions is basic health care.

“It would have created a logistical nightmare for health insurers and individual enrollees and pushed abortion even further out of reach in the midst of a global pandemic that has upended our economy, disproportionately harming people with low-incomes, people of color, and people with disabilities,” said Meagan Burrows, a staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “Abortion is health care—and must be treated as such.”

But many Americans disagree, and polls consistently show that most Americans oppose taxpayer-funded abortions.

In 2014, the Charlotte Lozier Institute and Family Research Council launched Obamacareabortion.com as a resource to help consumers find health plans that do not include elective abortion.

That same year, a report from the non-partisan Government Accountability Office found massive public funding of abortion in President Barack Obama’s health care law. When he signed Obamacare into law, Obama promised the American people that it would not pay for abortions. He even signed an executive order to that effect. But the GAO report found that he misled Americans.

Pro-life advocates and politicians praised the Trump administration after it introduced the new rule in 2019.

Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said it was a victory for transparency and American taxpayers.

She told LifeNews.com, previously: “Obamacare was the largest expansion of taxpayer-funded abortion since Roe v. Wade, dramatically increasing abortion funding by subsidizing plans that cover abortion on demand. Making this dramatic expansion even more onerous, the Obama administration allowed insurers to ignore the law by burying the abortion surcharge in plan documents instead of collecting it separately. This new rule will ensure compliance so that ‘separate’ no longer means ‘together’ when it comes to funding abortion.”

U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska said the rule brings insurance companies that had flaunted the law under the Obama administration into compliance.

“This pro-life, pro-transparency rule is an important step in the right direction. Obamacare uses publicly-subsidized plans that cover abortion on demand. The Obama Administration hid the ball by letting insurance companies bury a legally required abortion surcharge in paperwork, but this new Trump Administration rule makes sure that the fee is out in the open,” he said in December.

Trump’s record on pro-life values has been strong. In one of his first acts as president, he reinstated and expanded the Mexico City Policy, which prohibits taxpayer funding to international groups that promote or provide abortions overseas. The change defunded Planned Parenthood’s international arm of about $100 million in U.S. tax dollars.

His administration also finalized a new Title X rule that requires health care entities to completely separate abortion from their taxpayer-funded services. Planned Parenthood lost about $60 million in taxpayer funding through the policy change.