Today is a critical day in the health care reform battle as the U.S. Senate Finance Committee considers several pro-life amendments filed by Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch that would prevent government funding for abortion and assisted suicide, and preserve current conscience laws for health care workers and providers.
A recent Rasmussen poll showed only 13 percent of Americans wanting taxpayer-funded abortions in health care reform. Despite this, Minnesota Democratic Sen. Max Baucus’s bill, which is now undergoing mark-up, currently requires the government to spend $6 billion establishing co-ops that could cover abortion. The bill would also enable individuals to receive refundable, advanceable tax credits to purchase health insurance that covers abortion, and require at least one plan in each premium rating area to cover abortion.
Dr. Charmaine Yoest, President and CEO of Americans United for Life said, “Today is a critical day in health care reform for pro-life America. All amendments that have had explicit language banning abortion funding and coverage have been defeated in Congress despite rhetorical assurances from President Obama, Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid that abortion will not be in health care reform. With the upcoming vote on the pro-life amendments today, the Senate has another golden opportunity today to show prolife America that abortion will be explicitly excluded from health care reform.”
Dr. Yoest recently met with the White House on the issue of abortion in health care.
Here are the pro-life amendments being considered for a vote tomorrow (for a more detailed explanation, please go to view this downloadable chart):
- Hatch Amdt. #C14 (355): Prohibits authorized or appropriated federal funds under this bill from being used for elective abortions and plans that cover such abortions.
- Hatch Amdt. #C13 (354): Protects the rights of conscience of health care entities (individuals or organizations), preventing discrimination against those who do not provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.
- Hatch Amdt. #C12 (353): Prohibits federal funds under this bill from being used to pay for assisted suicide and offers conscience protections to providers or plans refusing to offer assisted suicide services.
Without an explicit, proactive exclusion of abortion from the health care bills, the courts and administrative agencies will impose an abortion mandate, just as they did with Medicaid (the Hyde Amendment must be included in the LHHS Appropriations Bill each year to prevent federal funding of abortion under Medicaid; however, the Hyde Amendment would not apply to this health care reform). But, so far, every single pro-life amendment proposed to prevent abortion funding and coverage in the health care reform bills in Congress has been defeated.
Mary Harned, Staff Counsel to Americans United for Life asks: “If pro-abortion members of Congress do not intend for the health care reform bills to fund and mandate abortion coverage, then why did they vote against all amendments that would have included explicit language excluding abortion funding and coverage?”
The following pro-life amendments explicitly excluding abortion in the health care bills were defeated:
- Sen. Mike Enzi’s (R-Wyo.) amendments that would have prevented taxpayer funding of abortion and would prevent abortion clinics from being eligible for federally qualified health center grants;
- Sen. Orin Hatch’s (R-Utah) amendments that would have prevented tax-funded abortions unless the life of the mother is endangered or unless the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest (making the Hyde Amendment permanent);
- Sen. Tom Coburn’s (R-Okla.) amendments that would have ensured no abortion mandates, prevented abortion clinics from being eligible for federally qualified health center grants, prevented the invalidation of state laws that regulate abortion, codified the Hyde/Weldon conscience protection law, and ensured that Americans have professional ethicists informing any Government-funded medical decisions; and
- Sen. Pat Roberts’ (R-Kansas) amendment which would have prevented the invalidation of state laws regulating abortion.
U.S. House of Representatives
In the Education and Labor Committee:
- Amendment to prohibit the abortion coverage mandate (Rep. Souder) (failed 19-29).
- Amendment to prohibit the abortion funding mandate (Rep. Souder) (failed 19-29).
In the Ways and Means Committee:
- Amendment to prohibit the abortion coverage mandate (Rep. Johnson) (failed 18-23).
- Amendment to prohibit the abortion funding mandate (Rep. Cantor) (failed 19-22).
In the House Energy and Commerce Committee:
- Amendment to prohibit the abortion coverage mandate (Reps. Pitts, Stupak, and Blunt) (failed 29-30).
- Amendment to prohibit the abortion funding mandate (Reps. Stupak and Pitts) (failed 27-31).
For more information, see AUL’s blog and please view this downloadable chartwhich demonstrates that without an explicit, proactive exclusion of abortion from the health care bills. Americans United for Life is the oldest pro-life organization in the country and has been involved in every major court case since Roe v. Wade.
About Americans United for Life
Americans United for Life (AUL) is a nonprofit, public-interest law and policy organization whose vision is a nation in which everyone is welcomed in life and protected in law. The first national pro-life organization in America, AUL has been committed to defending human life through vigorous judicial, legislative, and educational efforts at both the federal and state levels since 1971. The Wall Street Journal has profiled AUL, and PBS’ Frontline program chronicled AUL’s successful efforts in Mississippi.