Monday, March 22, 2010

The New Health Care Reform Bill and Abortion

I will not claim to understand the intricacies of this new health care bill. As such, commenting on it includes high risk on my part. Normally political issues of this sort would be off limits for this blog, unless they impact the Faith or general issues of morality. Well, one of those issues came into view as this bill came to its final vote on Sunday. As many are undoubtedly aware the question of whether the bill would include federal funding for abortion became a hot button issue, threatening to even derail its passage if lawmakers such as Bart Stupak, a heretofore staunch pro-life Democrat, decided to vote no. Much to the surprise of many (especially in the Catholic community) Stupak voted yes, supposedly with the assurance from the president that an executive order would keep federal funds from ever directly paying for abortions.

According to Stupak's official government website, we read:

Since last summer Stupak and other pro-life members of Congress insisted that health care reform maintain current law of no federal funding for abortion. Stupak and other pro-life members of Congress made clear that on its own, H.R. 3590 would implement a dramatic shift in federal policy that would allow the federal government to subsidize insurance policies with abortion coverage and recognize abortion as a benefit in a federal health plan. However, after intense negotiations with Stupak and other pro-life Democrats, President Obama announced he would sign an Executive Order reaffirming the Hyde amendment could not be circumvented and that no taxpayer dollars would be used to pay for health plans that cover abortion.

In addition, Stupak engaged in a colloquy on the House floor Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman to further enter into the record Congress’ intent that the Hyde provisions of no public funding for abortion will apply to H.R. 3590.

“I have said from the start I would not vote for health care reform without adequate protections in place to make sure the current law of no federal funding for abortion is maintained,” Stupak said. “The president’s Executive Order upholds the principle that federal funds should not be used to subsidize abortion coverage.” The president will sign the Executive Order following the signing of H.R. 3590.

That supposed assurance has been challenged and refuted, and again I will not attempt to explain the legal rationale. However, it came to my attention that Planned Parenhood was rejoicing in the passage of the new bill, and that alarmed me. If they are rejoicing, then they must see a loophole or a good possibility that funding for abortion remains a strong possibility. On their website they state:

Thanks to supporters like you, we were able to keep the Stupak abortion ban out of the final legislation and President Obama did not include the Stupak language in his Executive Order. Unfortunately, the bill includes the Nelson amendment that will impose new and severe restrictions on private health insurance coverage for abortion for millions of women. While we celebrate the passage of health care reform, we're going to need your commitment to fix the damage caused by the Nelson amendment — and that starts right now.

My fear remains that the pro-choice forces will eventually prevail in having this bill provide funding for abortions, and that is morally objectionable in the highest way, for it forces those of us opposed to this legalized form of murder to pay for it by way of our own taxes.

The Hyde Amendment referenced above is not a guarantee that future federal dollars will not eventually be used to pay for abortions. In fact, at the link above I discovered that several states already provide such funding either on a voluntary or court-ordered basis. Also, the Hyde Amendment is not a permanent law, but merely a 'rider' attached to legislation from time to time.

Hopefully the pressure will remain to hold the line, especially with the upcoming Fall elections. Still, much mischief can sneak in when no one is looking....


Rachel E. said...

The bill will still pay for abortions in community health centers, regardless of the Hyde Amendment:

Sadly, a lot of people who are pro-life will continue to believe their tax dollars will not pay for abortions under Obamacare, which is untrue.

TeeJay said...

Let heralds mark the decree of the dragon who consumes life and possessions of the unborn, for the saints shall watch prayerfully for the righteous judgment of our Lord.

Jeff said...

An Executive Order is a piece of paper and that is all it is. As impressive sounding as the name may be, the law trumps it every time! Mike Huckabee said on his program that he signed dozens of Executive Orders when he was Governor and they are only as good as the law allows them to be. Stupak and his 10 cronies have to have known this which means they sold out their values.