As states roll out their newly mandated high-risk pools under Obamacare, a troubling trend is emerging. Pennsylvania and Maryland initially announced on their websites that their plans would cover elective abortions. Additionally, New Mexico posted a draft summary of its high-risk pool services that listed elective abortion as a part of its covered services.
The reaction from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the White House was complete silence. It was not until the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) called out those states that a spokesperson for the HHS announced that abortions will not be covered in the federally funded high-risk pools, except in the cases of rape or incest, or where the life of the mother would be endangered.
It’s entirely possible that if the NRLC had not blown the whistle, HHS could have let states get by with federal funding of abortion. However, HHS has not issued any written guidelines in regard to abortion funding and this statement is not backed by permanent legislative language. A mere verbal directive from a bureaucrat is currently the only protection we have to protect taxpayers from paying for elective abortions under this portion of Obamacare.
Obama’s Weak Executive Order
This is the nightmare scenario that I and many of my colleagues in the House and Senate warned of during the healthcare debate. While states offering taxpayer-funded abortions may be compelled for now to back away from their initial proposals, the fact remains: Obamacare offers no statutory protection against taxpayer funding of abortions. This highlights the fragile nature of Obama’s executive order prohibiting abortion coverage under Obamacare. And you can be certain that this is just the first of many such “surprises” that will emerge from the bureaucratic quagmire that is Obamacare.
In an effort to ensure that Colorado does not try to follow the lead of some of these other states, I have sent a letter to the governor of Colorado and the state’s plan administrator asking to see the proposed healthcare policies. Though the plan is scheduled to begin coverage on September 1, they have yet to provide even a draft of the plan for public viewing. Given the problems in other states, Colorado should reassure its taxpayers that public money will not fund elective abortions.
To hold my state accountable, I am asking my constituents and all other interested citizens to contact the governor’s office to express their views on the matter. I am hoping that as more pro-life groups catch wind of this, our efforts will grow nationally. For now, this is all we can do.
The real solution must come from Congress.
Since 1976, the Hyde Amendment, a legislative provision prohibiting the use of federal funds for abortion, has been attached to appropriations bills that fund HHS. Although the Hyde Amendment is not permanent law, it does reflect the will of Congress on the issue of federal funding of abortion. However, the Hyde Amendment does not apply directly to Obamacare and its massive bureaucracy.
Protect Life Act
Rep. Joe Pitts (R.-Pa.) has introduced the Protect Life Act (H.R. 5111), which would offer permanent restrictions on federal funding of abortion by guaranteeing that no tax subsidies can flow to plans that cover elective abortion. I am one of 119 co-sponsors of this legislation. Additionally, Rep. Chris Smith (R.-N.J.) has just introduced a bill, similar to the Protect Life Act, that would go one step further and offer protections to healthcare providers. The conscience clause would ensure that local, state, and federal agencies that receive federal healthcare dollars do not discriminate against healthcare providers, including doctors, nurses and hospitals, because these providers do not provide abortions.
While I am hopeful we will prevail on this occasion in protecting taxpayers from funding elective abortions, this debate underscores the larger problems with Obamacare. The bill is riddled with undisclosed costs and hidden problems, many that have yet to surface. For that reason, I have pledged to repeal and defund this government takeover of healthcare. But, for now, we must fight for permanent legislative language to prevent taxpayers from funding elective abortions. When it comes to protecting the unborn, there is no room for compromise.