Henry Hyde, whom I knew personally, was a pro-life hero. For over three decades the amendment which bears his name forbid the federal government from funding abortions. Henry was convinced that abortion was the taking of an innocent human life, and insisted that, as a minimum, Americans should not be forced to pay for it with their tax dollars.
The Senate “health care” bill trashes that principle. According to Senator Sam Brownback, “Despite the promises of the Obama administration and the Democratic leadership that the health care bill would maintain the status quo on the issue of abortion, the legislative language revealed by Majority Leader Harry Reid late last week radically changes that status quo and sets the tragic precedent of providing federal funding for abortion.”
How can this be so? Most of the press accounts, following Democrat talking points, have intentionally obscured the truth. They have portrayed Harry Reid’s efforts to bribe various senators into supporting the bill as a process of “compromise” and “give-and-take,” especially on the issue of abortion. They have claimed that the bill maintains “neutrality” on the issue of abortion, and does not change the status quo.
This is nothing more than a rhetorical smokescreen. While the House bill, thanks to the Stupak Amendment, prohibits federal funds from being used to pay for elective abortions, the Senate bill actually allows funds to be expended for this purpose.
Let me explain.
It is true that the bill allows each of the fifty states to “opt out” of providing insurance coverage of abortions. But if even one state decides to provide insurance coverage for abortions, all taxpayers, regardless of where they live, will see their tax dollars used to fund elective abortions in that state. In other words, as Senator Brownback makes clear, “even taxpayers in states that opt out of providing abortion coverage cannot opt out of paying for elective abortion.”
This provision effectively kills the Hyde Amendment.
Nor is this the only abortion problem with the bill. Each state will have the authority to provide access to two multistate plans through the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), but only one of these can exclude abortions. None of the federally administered health programs, like OPM’s, Medicare, Medicaid, TriCare and the Children’s Health Insurance Plan, currently cover elective abortions. If Reid’s bill becomes law, a federally funded and managed health care plan will cover elective abortions for the first time.
Moveover, since federal law trumps state law, the bill would also overturn existing state laws restricting abortion. Looked at this way, the “health care” bill is kind of a back-door Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA).
The bill also gives enormous power to the executive branch, which will be able to force private health plans to cover abortion by the simple expedient of defining them as “preventive care.” If you don’t believe that Obama’s health czar won’t use this authority to promote abortion, you haven’t been paying attention.
A final flaw in the current bill is its lack of protection for freedom of conscience. Language prohibiting discrimination against health care providers who decline to provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions is nowhere to be found.
The Senate bill is an abortion bill masquerading as a “health care” bill. And it must be stopped.