Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Healthcare Reform DOES NOT Fund Abortion

I was inspired to write this post because of the response generated from today's Observer Article about reactions to the health care bill featuring quotes from myself, faculty, and the President of the College Republicans. In the post I explicitly state, “The Senate bill won’t fund abortion and the House bill won’t fund abortion,” he said. "Abortion will not be paid for in this bill.” I stand by my claim! Here is why...

National Right to Life (NRLC) writes, "A vote for the Senate-passed health bill (H.R. 3590) is a vote for the most expansively pro-abortion legislation ever to come before the House of Representatives, since Roe v. Wade."

A critic of my comments in the article writes, "Also, an executive order cannot overrule law passed by congress, and the bill that just passed allows insurance plans that cover elective abortions to receive federal subsidies."

Lets break down the two major arguments for why abortion is paid for in the bill: (http://www.nrlc.org/)

1. Subsidies provided for low income people to buy insurance in health insurance exchanges will go towards plans that have the option to cover abortion

2. Direct funding of abortion through the Community Health Centers program, or through high risk pools funding, will result in federal funding of abortion that can circumvent the Hyde Amendment.

***Other arguments are centered around if the Hyde Amendment were to be overturned. Well, if the Hyde Amendment were overturned the government would still have complete discretion on funding abortion with federal dollars. Theoretically, any increase in health care coverage could be deemed as "paying for abortion" using this logic--assuming it would be possible that abortion could be paid for if a series of events occurred to change current law.

These arguments are based in ignorance and fear, and do not stand up to simple logic.  I deconstruct them after the break.  Take a look:


1. Purchasing coverage for abortion is not covered with a subsidy, it has to be done separately of the subsidized general health coverage. The NLRC even admits that in their letter:
Every enrollee in such a plan would find himself or herself subject to a requirement that he or she make a separate payment into a fund used exclusively for elective abortions – an abortion surcharge.
Therefore, people have to CHOOSE if they want to pay extra for abortion coverage. The money will not come from the federal government.

The NLRC goes on to claim the following:
This requirement would apply to anyone who enrolls in
a subsidized plan that covers elective abortions, which would surely include many people who would learn of the abortion surcharge only after enrolling, but who would have no choice other than to pay the abortion surcharge or see their entire health coverage lapse.
The argument here goes as follows, "people who do not read their health care coverage before buying it may be tricked into paying extra for abortion funding." Even if they are "tricked" it still is not the federal government paying for abortion. You follow?

2. I have found the technicality that right to life groups claim empowers Community Health Centers (CHCs) to perform abortions with federal money from this health care bill or the stimulus bill. They apply the same logic I previously described to assume that additional funding for "high risk pools" will result in federally funded abortion. The Hyde Amendment, which restricts federal funding of abortion, only refers to the yearly appropriations bill for the Department of Health and Human Services. The health care bill and the stimulus bill appropriate funds directly to community health centers meaning they do not have to abide by this amendment.  However, a read of President Obama's Executive Order on abortion after the signing of the health care bill shows that CHCs cannot fund abortion under current law.
Existing law prohibits these centers from using federal funds to provide abortion services (except in cases of rape or incest, or when the life of the woman would be endangered), as a result of both the Hyde Amendment and longstanding regulations containing the Hyde language. Under the Act, the Hyde language shall apply to the authorization and appropriations of funds for Community Health Centers under section 10503 and all other relevant provisions. I hereby direct the Secretary of HHS to ensure that program administrators and recipients of Federal funds are aware of and comply with the limitations on abortion services imposed on CHCs by existing law.
Even if you do not trust the President and the legal scholars that put together his Executive Order, the Executive Order explicitly directs that federal funds to CHCs will not end up paying for abortions. Executive Orders cannot overturn law passed by Congress but they have the legal precedent to make discretionary decisions on how funds are spent. (Legal Dictionary)

Also the fear of CHCs funding abortions is unfounded: "Never in their 45 years have community health centers provided abortions. They did not even before the Hyde Amendment was enacted."

There is yet another argument! Some have refused to believe the President in his executive order that current law protects against federal funding of abortion in the bill, but have chosen to believe that the executive order is not legally capable of directing funding in bills passed by Congress that have become law.
The executive order promised by President Obama was issued for political effect. It changes nothing. It does not correct any of the serious pro-abortion provisions in the bill. The president cannot amend a bill by issuing an order, and the federal courts will enforce what the law says." (NLRC)
The argument then becomes that the executive order is vulnerable to the court system overruling portions of the order.  The federal court system has the power to deem any national law unconstitutional therefore this argument is based entirely on a hypothetical that is unlikely given that the courts have had the same opportunity to overrule the Hyde Amendment since 1976.

After a thorough review, the health care bill of 2010 does not use federal dollars to fund abortion.

CASE CLOSED. Time to spread the truth people.


Colleen Lowry said...

Awesome Chris! Thanks for explaining this to everyone. I know I was confused about all of the lies and misconceptions out there about abortion in the bill. This really clears things up!

ShamRockNRoll said...

I second Colleen. This was one of the most contentious parts of the healthcare debate, and it really didn't need to be. Too bad people in the media are too lazy to do the simple research that you just did... and also apply a dose of common sense.

Tim Ryan said...

As fantastically laid out as Chris' points are, you can't really expect people who make these uninformed arguments against reform to bother with things like "facts" or "reality" or "reading the bill". It would clash too heavily with their worldview. And in Idiot America, reality is whatever is shouted the loudest. Luckily, in real America, while all the shouting was going on, we were in the background making phonecalls and being productive in order to make sure this thing passed.

ShamRockNRoll said...

Hear hear!