Topics: Obamacare

Obamacare, abortion and the pursuit of legitimacy

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Obamacare represents the largest expansion of abortion policy since Roe v. Wade, with pro-abortion policies intertwined in the law affecting individuals, employers, states, and the federal government.

The law fattens the pockets of abortion providers, but most critically, advances an objective less tangible but more significant to their long-term goals—legitimacy.

Abortion-rights advocates believe that, if abortion is recognized as “legitimate healthcare,” it will become less controversial and will be viewed simply as one of many available gynecological services.

In Harris v. McRae, however, the United States Supreme Court recognized that “abortion is inherently different from other medical procedures, because no other procedure involves the purposeful termination of a potential life.”

Most Americans would agree with the Court, and would find it ludicrous for the government to endorse the proposition that obtaining prenatal care and aborting a baby are two equal and morally neutral options. Yet, such an endorsement is what abortion-rights activists most covet.

While Obamacare did not fully deliver this endorsement, given that private insurance plans are not required to cover abortions (yet they are required to cover life-ending drugs and devices mislabeled as “contraception” under the HHS mandate to pay for “preventive services”), the law is still riddled with anti-life concerns that further the administration’s ultimate goal of legitimatizing abortion as healthcare.

Take, for example, the new exchanges that begin enrollment October 1 in every state. Unless a state takes the affirmative step to “opt-out” of allowing health insurance plans that cover abortions to participate in its exchange, insurance plans are explicitly permitted to do so under Obamacare, and may then receive taxpayer funding through subsidies.

This turns federal policy on its head. Instead of mirroring other federal laws that prohibit federal tax dollars from subsidizing insurance plans that cover abortions, Obamacare permits taxpayer funding to subsidize these plans, absent a new state law opting-out of such coverage.

No, these subsidies cannot be used to pay directly for abortions. As part of the “compromise” that was crafted to secure passage of Obamacare, the law establishes an accounting gimmick—the “abortion premium mandate”—which purports to prevent direct taxpayer funding for abortion in an exchange.

The “abortion premium mandate” requires individuals enrolled in exchange plans that cover abortions—by choice, inadvertently, or through employment—to pay two premiums.

One premium pays for nothing but abortions, while the other pays for everything else. Federal subsidies are supposed to contribute to the second premium, but not the first.

If, however, during the annual federal appropriations process, Congress ever fails to pass the Hyde Amendment—an appropriations rider that expressly prohibits certain taxpayer funds from being used for abortions or abortion coverage—the accounting gimmick will no longer apply. Taxpayer subsidies will then be used to pay directly for abortions in healthcare plans.

Make no mistake—this design flaw is intentional. Abortion-rights activists consider the elimination of the Hyde Amendment a top priority. If they ever succeed, American taxpayers will be forced to pay directly for abortions through Medicaid and the Obamacare exchanges.

The new healthcare law should have explicitly prohibited the use of any newly authorized or appropriated public funding for abortions or abortion coverage.

Such a prohibition would have maintained the status quo that under federal law, abortion is not the same as legitimate healthcare.

Instead, the primary abortion funding restriction in the law is built on a house of cards. If political winds shift, and the Hyde Amendment falls, there will be direct taxpayer funding for abortion coverage within the exchanges. And direct taxpayer funding builds legitimacy.

Obamacare further entangles the federal government in abortion policy, and creates gaping holes where abortion funding and coverage could be required.

Unless Americans are vigilant and demand that changes are made in the law, insurance coverage mandates and taxpayer funding will be exploited to continue the pursuit of legitimacy for abortion –anathema to the majority of Americans who value unborn life.

Mary E. Harned is staff counsel at Americans United for Life.
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