Thursday, July 22, 2010

Close Call With Abortion

Pro-lifers are wiping their brows these days, after America came close to seeing its federal tax dollars spent on funding abortions. Earlier this month, unborn children in several states – Pennsylvania, New Mexico and Maryland – dodged a scalpel only when the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) stressed late on July 14, that the states could not use newly available health care funds to pay for abortions.
HHS’s clarification reiterated what President Obama had said in his executive order stating the health care reform funds would not be used for elective abortions.
However, the close call raises some important questions. Could it be that those who opposed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act health reform bill because they feared it would funnel government money into abortions were on to something? Until HHS stepped in, New Mexico, for example, was blithely boasting on its website that elective abortions (for pregnancies not the result of rape or incest or endangering the health of the mother) would be funded through five billion federal dollars from the PPACA’s “high risk insurance pools.” If PPACA banned this funding so clearly, as proponents of the bill had argued leading up to its passage, how could these states (and their lawyers) all miss it?
Planned Parenthood also thinks PPACA doesn’t ban funding abortion in these new programs, as their recent letter-writing campaign reflects. In a dyspeptic blast email it urges people to say they were “outraged” and to tell Obama to undo the abortion coverage ban, explaining that:
"Nothing in the new health care reform law requires a ban on abortion coverage in the high-risk pools. No law passed by Congress forced this decision."
Maybe they’re onto something, too.
Fortunately, there is a straight-forward way to resolve these doubts: Pass the bi-partisan Protect Life Act. It would bring PPACA into line with the Hyde Amendment, a long-standing federal law first passed in 1976, by unmistakably banning federal money from being used for elective abortions or plans that cover abortion. No more regulatory whack-a-mole, hoping that the pro-life community will catch each and every attempt to redirect PPACA funds toward abortion. No more divisive and unnecessary debates over whether PPACA (or HHS regulations, or the President’s Executive Order) really do ban abortion funding in our newly reformed health system.
This country needs healthcare reform. Any program with funds earmarked to maintain wellness and save lives has no business treating an inconvenient pregnancy as a disease to be eradicated. We need the Protect Life Act to establish, once and for all, that health care funds actually fund health care—not the already-too-well-funded abortion industry.

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