Health care reform includes abortion provisions
When President Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), a massive restructuring of health care, it was strongly opposed by all major prolife groups, including Right to Life of Michigan and the National Right to Life Committee.
The new law requires that U.S. citizens purchase health insurance; starting in 2014 those that don’t must pay a penalty. Also starting in 2014, the federal government will provide subsidies for the purchase of insurance, called affordability credits, to households earning up to four times the federal poverty level. PPACA also will greatly expand Medicaid and restructure parts of Medicare.
The abortion provisions in the health care law are most concerning to prolife people.PPACA contains the following pro-abortion provisions:
- Individuals can use the taxpayer-funded subsidies, or affordability credits, to purchase insurance plans that cover elective abortion. This federal funding of insurance plans that include abortion coverage violates the long-standing principles of the Hyde Amendment.
- In plans that cover elective abortion, each individual on the plan must pay an abortion surcharge, regular payments that will be used exclusively to pay for enrollees’ abortions. It is inevitable that at least some prolife people will have to enroll in such plans, due to their employment or lack of a plan in their area that does not cover abortions. These prolife individuals will then be forced to pay out-of-pocket for other enrollees’ abortions through this mandatory abortion surcharge. Several states, including Michigan, are working to introduce “opt-out” bills in their state legislatures.
- The law allows the Obama administration or future administrations to redefine abortion as “preventative care.” The executive branch would use this unprecedented redefinition of abortion to expand access to abortion, and may even mandate that private health care plans cover abortion.
- It opens the door to direct federal funding of abortion at Community Health Centers and through the Indian Health Service.
- It fails to guarantee essential conscience protections for prolife medical professionals.
The U.S. House approved H.R. 3590 on Sunday, March 21, 2010, with a vote of 219-212. All 219 votes in favor were cast by Democrats. Of the opposing (prolife) votes, 178 were cast by Republicans and 34 by Democrats. On March 24, one day after signing into law the health care bill, President Obama signed an Executive Order which Representative Bart Stupak and other prolife Democrats touted as a fix for the pro-abortion provisions in H.R. 3590.
Following the release of the Executive Order, Rep. Stupak announced his support for H.R. 3590 and voted in favor of the bill. However, prolife groups concur that the Executive Order fails to correct any of the pro-abortion problems listed above. In response to the Executive Order, National Right to Life issued a statement that read in part: “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.”
In response to Rep. Stupak’s “yes” vote on the health care bill, Right to Life of Michigan Political Action Committee rescinded his endorsement.