It’s hard to believe it’s been five years since the passage of the President’s health care plan! While many experts will write on how the health care law is hurting the economy, families, the unborn, medical device manufacturers, businesses, the elderly, etc. etc. I’d rather turn my attention to a victim not many are talking about: pro-life bi-partisanship on the federal level.
Historically the Democratic Party has been pro-abortion since the Carter Administration and became even more so in response to the strong pro-life views of President Ronald Reagan. Despite this fealty to abortion pro-life views were tolerated in the Democratic Party, in part due to their large Catholic constituency. This tolerance was limited of course. If you wanted to run for higher office you needed to renounce your pro-life views (believe it or not at one time Jesse Jackson and Senators Al Gore and Joe Biden were pro-life, until they decided to run for President).
Further evidence of this limited tolerance was one of the strongest pro-life Governors of the 1980s and 1990s was a Democrat, Pennsylvania Governor Bob Casey. Governor Casey was best known for challenging his Party to be more tolerant of pro-life views and also in legally advocating for the unborn in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a major Supreme Court case that upheld almost all the prohibitions on abortion that Governor Casey had signed into law. Despite this (or more likely because of this) the popular governor was barred repeatedly from speaking at Democratic Party conventions. Around this same time a newly elected President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary were expertly putting up smoke screens on the issue of abortion – arguing that it should be “safe, legal and rare” while implementing policies that solidified pro-abortion policies within the federal government. The Clintons increased ties between the Democratic Party and radical pro-abortion groups like NARAL and Planned Parenthood, including increasing taxpayer funds to such groups who in turn increased campaign donations to Democrats.
This smoke screen approach to hide radical pro-abortion policies became the norm for some Democrats such as Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) and, the future President Barack Obama.. However a number of strong pro-life Democrats also emerged such as Reps. Bart Stupak (R-Mich.), Mike McIntyre (D-NC), Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), Colin Peterson (D-Minn.), Kathy Dahlkemper (D-Penn.) Nick Rahall (D-WV), Alan Mollohan (D-WV) Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) and Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Nebr.).
Along comes the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), “Obamacare” introduced as a bill in November, 2009, and passed in March, 2010. The bill rolled back decades of abortion policy, allowing taxpayer subsidies for policies with elective abortion under a system of accounting gimmicks, and charging an “abortion surcharge” for anyone enrolled in a federally subsidized health care plan that covers elective abortions – regardless of if the enrollee agrees with the policy or not.
As passed five years ago today Obamacare also lacks comprehensive abortion funding restrictions, instead relying on a powerless Executive Order that reiterates the very accounting gimmicks that allow for taxpayer funding of abortions. Legal precedent has shown that Executive Orders cannot trump the law. Additionally Obamacare created slush funds for pro-abortion groups; opened the door for President Obama’s mandate that forces people (regardless of their views on abortion) to pay for abortifacients and also uses taxpayer funds to pay for abortions in health care plans for federal employees.
Prior to the vote on Obamacare the Democrats listed above were reliable on standing up for pro-life principles, but following the vote only Reps. McIntyre, Lipinski and Peterson remained loyal to the pro-life cause.As of November 2014 only Dan Lipinski remains in Congress.
During the passage of Obamacare the betrayal of Rep. Bart Stupak is well known. Long a champion for adding pro-life protections into the health care legislation he folded under pressure from the White House and pro-abortion groups (closely tied financially to each other) to accept a health care law with no pro-life protections other than a smoke screen scheme devised by once pro-life Senator Ben Nelson.
Not well known during the Obamacare debate is that pro-life Republicans faced a challenge to their pro-life views during the Obamacare debate as well. Prior to the first vote in the House on that chamber’s draft of health care legislation a group of fiscally conservative minded folks sought to use the pro-life movement as a political tool against the health care law. On the day of the debate representatives from a fiscal conservative group started falsely telling Republicans that pro-life groups, including the one I worked for at the time, wanted to sink the amendment that would have put pro-life protections into the health care law, also known as the Stupak Amendment. Luckily we were able to set the record straight that day – knowing that the result of Republicans voting against a clearly pro-life amendment would have divided the pro-life movement and cause pro-life Democrats to rightly no longer trust Republicans on the issue of the protecting the unborn. Instead pro-life Republicans voted on principle for the pro-life amendment, which in turn gave anti-Obamacare forces months more to prepare grassroots for the continuing fight.
Ironically it was Rep. Stupak’s later voting against a similar version of his own amendment that sealed his betrayal of pro-life principles and allowed for the passage of the pro-abortion Obamacare legislation.
That betrayal was not the end of the devastation though. In the election following the passage of Obamacare many of the Democrats who were once pro-life yet voted for Obamacare lost their elections. These losses, in large part, were brought about by the work of the Susan B. Anthony List. One now former congressional member, Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-Ohio) attempted to sue SBA List for being the cause of his loss of employment. In his attempt he was aided by the group Democrats for Life (who also supported the final pro-abortion version of Obamacare) who reportedly revealed private e-mail exchanges to help target pro-life individuals, including myself. These actions still taint the once proud organization today and make it untrustworthy in the eyes of many in the pro-life movement.
Obamacare changed the face of Congress in many ways, and not just with the defeat of once pro-life Democrats. As Family Research Council recently pointed out, Catholics, seen as a strong force among pro-lifers, are also taking a second look at their traditional support for Democrats:
Catholics are bolting from the Democratic Party so rapidly that Pew Research Center now says 53% of white Catholics now favor the GOP (compared to the Democrats’ 39%), the “largest point spread in the history of the Pew poll.” And the evidence is sitting in Congress. When President Obama was swept into office, there were 98 Catholic Democrats in the House and 37 Catholic Republicans. Barely six years later, there are two times as many Catholic Republicans in the House (69) and 68 Democrats.
To end on a more positive note, while it is true the Democratic Party on the federal level suffered, there is clear sign of a resurgence of pro-life Democrats on the local levels. The numerous pieces of pro-life legislation flooding the states are being done with bi-partisan support. In addition some Senate Democrats are becoming more emboldened in a Senate led by pro-life Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) as opposed to the pro-abortion former Majority Leader (and former pro-life Democrat) Harry Reid (D-Nev.). Self-avowed pro-life Democrats such as Joe Manchin (D-WV) and even Bob Casey (D-Penn.) (son of the aforementioned Governor who voted for the pro-abortion version of Obamacare) are currently stepping up to the plate to defend barring of taxpayer funds in the human trafficking bill. All of this is a good thing – pro-life policies should not be a partisan issue. Abortion kills regardless of political party.
Yesterday, Republican Leadership in the House of Representatives introduced their massive end of year spending bill, called by some a “CROmnibus.” The bill is a disappointment in that it doesn’t give teeth to any pro-life issues that need immediate attention, such as states like California forcing Christian entities to pay for abortions. However, it does offer instructions to the Obama Administration on issues of transparency in regards to abortion within the health law commonly known as Obamacare.
This legislation is a prime opportunity to draw attention to the taxpayer-funded abortion coverage in the ACA; specifically, the lack of transparency regarding abortion coverage. It has become evident that it is very difficult for consumers seeking exchange plans to identify which, if any plans, on their state exchange exclude abortion. This is vital information for pro-life consumers in the 27 states that have not passed laws to exclude abortion coverage in their state exchange. Since there is a mandatory monthly abortion surcharge included in the premiums for any plan that includes elective abortion, pro-life consumers will want to identify plans that exclude abortion. However, the exchange websites do not indicate whether abortion coverage is included in each plan and the pricing information does not specify when the price includes the abortion surcharge.
The CROmnibus includes the following language concerning Obamacare abortion transparency provision:
Transparency in Health Plans.-The agreement directs the Secretary to provide
additional clarification to qualified health plans, based upon relevant and related
GAO findings, to ensure greater consistency and full transparency of coverage
options included in health insurance plans prior to plan purchase in the
marketplace enrollment process. The agreement requests a timeline for such
clarifying guidance to be submitted to the House and Senate Committees on
Appropriations within 30 days after enactment of this act.
If the CROmnibus passes this week, it will likely be months (if ever) before the Obama Administration actually complies with the request. However, thanks to the work of the Charlotte Lozier Institute and Family Research Council, consumers don’t have to wait as long. Last month, the groups launched a new website to expose which health insurance plans on the Obamacare exchanges cover and do not cover elective abortion for the 2015 enrollment period.
The website, ObamacareAbortion.com, is a joint effort between the two groups. Researchers have examined new plan documents, contacted insurance carriers and the exchanges seeking plan information. They also reference the 2014 Government Accountability Office report that provided a list of 1,036 plans that covered abortion on demand and were eligible for federal tax subsidies in 2014. This new online tool will aid Americans who want to make fully informed healthcare decisions and avoid inadvertently purchasing a plan covering abortion on demand. Be sure to check it out.
This week the non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report confirming what pro-lifers have been warning since 2010, your tax dollars are funding abortion through the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”).
Today, the March for Life participated in a press conference calling attention to this broken promise and calling on the Senate to act. Read Jeanne Monahan’s remarks below:
Thank you to Mr. Pitts for sponsoring this important press conference and to all of the Members for taking time during such a full moment to discuss this critical report.
We probably all remember well the March of 2010 when the entire passage of healthcare law hinged on abortion coverage and support. The bottom line was that if abortion was included in the healthcare law, it wouldn’t get the support it needed in Congress to pass. In those intense days President Obama promised that abortion coverage would not be included in the healthcare law. He even went so far as to imply that Hyde protections — the established pro-life protections since the late 70s would remain status quo in the law.
Today we stand here to say that nothing could be further from the truth. We have known that but for those who were confused by the 1000+ pages in the bill and the very confusing rollout of this law, please read this GAO report and take it to heart. There is without a doubt abortion in the healthcare law. This report is about the state exchanges, but abortion is included in other ways. The largest expansion of abortion since Roe vs Wade.
For example, consider the HHS mandate forcing groups like the MfL to cover drugs and devices that can destroy life in its earliest stages. The March for Life is a non-religious, non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated solely to protecting human life in its most vulnerable stages. But because of the healthcare law we are being forced to cover abortifacients in our healthcare. We refuse to do that. And so we are now engaged in litigation fighting this injustice.
This summer the SCOTUS showed us that America still has all three branches keeping each other in check. With that hope we ask you to call your Senator to ask them to support HR7 and right the wrong of the Obama Administration and their broken promises.
Several weeks ago, I visited healthcare.gov in search of pro-life insurance plans offered under the Affordable Care Act. After spending several frustrating hours on the website, I gained only limited information. For example, I learned that some plans include abortion coverage in the summary of benefits, but more often than not there was no mention of coverage at all. Thus, as a young woman who opposes abortion, I was left in the dark as to whether my hard-earned dollars would pay for abortion.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report this morning that confirms my experience and indicates that there is, in fact, no consistent way to determine which plans under Obamacare cover abortion. The report stunningly reveals that in five states, including my home state of New Jersey, there is not one pro-life plan available. In December of 2013, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was asked under oath by Representative John Shimkus (R-IL) about how to determine the plans that cover abortion. She could not answer his question but promised to provide a list, which ultimately did not happen prior to her leaving the Administration. The Secretary also insisted that such information was clearly provided on the healthcare.gov website. A statement, which, from my experience, is blatantly inaccurate.
Pro-life Americans should not have to spend hours reading summaries of benefits, or talking on the phone with insurance companies, in order to know if their health care plan violates their deeply held beliefs. This reality flies in the face of the transparency that was promised by the Obama Administration.
Your taxes are funding abortions
The GAO report has an even more disturbing revelation: taxpayers from all 50 states are subsidizing abortion under Obamacare, despite the fact that President Obama and members of his Administration, promised the contrary. In 2009, referencing the Hyde Amendment, President Obama told America: “This is a health care bill, not an abortion bill. We are not looking to change what is a core principle that has been in place for a very long time, which is federal dollars are not used to subsidize abortions.” [i]
During the healthcare debate in 2009, pro-abortion forces refused to extend Hyde Amendment type protections to the Affordable Care Act. Every year since 1976, the Hyde Amendment has banned federal funding for abortion under Medicaid, and is one of the most significant pro-life policies since Roe v. Wade was decided by the Supreme Court in 1973. Rather than extending the these types of protections, Obamacare set up an “abortion surcharge” through which insurance companies would bill individuals separately for abortion coverage, creating a pool of money funded by individuals, not tax dollars, to pay for abortion. This was not only an accounting gimmick, but it was unfair to Americans who would not know that their money was directly paying for abortion. Americans have the right to informed consent for something as critical as their money paying for abortion!
The GAO report further reveals that not one of the eighteen companies surveyed did actually bill separately or itemized an abortion surcharge! In other words, the accounting gimmick put in place is not even being practiced, and through their taxes, Americans in all 50 states are paying for 1,036 of 2,089 plans to cover abortion. Roughly half of the plans available through Obamacare provide abortion on demand!
The Obama Administration’s list of broken promises continues to grow, and the non-partisan GAO report confirms this. This is not the transparency that America was promised. Please, no more broken promises, Mr. President.
[i] “Obama: ‘This is a Health Care Bill, Not an Abortion Bill” Nov 10, 2009,https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4pFiCPgmgqE