By Chris Smith (R-NJ)
Editor’s note. The following was in response to a misguided Washington Post “fact checker” which ran under the headline “Does Obamacare provide federal subsidies for elective abortions?”
Congresswoman Virginia Foxx and I were on absolute bedrock when we argued last week during the House floor debate in favor of the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act that the President’s health care law authorized massive subsidies to assist millions of Americans to purchase private health plans that cover abortion on demand.
Conspicuously missing from the Washington Post Fact Checker’s incomplete report and egregiously flawed conclusion was robust analysis of what the President actually pledged in his highly public executive order promising to extend the Hyde Amendment to the Affordable Care Act.
Readers expect—and deserve—much more from the Post.
In order to gain the votes of several pro-life holdout congressional democrats needed for passage of the Affordable Care Act, President Obama issued an executive order on March 24, 2010 that said: “the Act maintains current Hyde Amendment restrictions governing abortion policy and extends those restrictions to newly created health insurance exchanges.”
The Hyde Amendment—named after the late Congressman Henry Hyde of Illinois—is current law and prohibits federal funding to any health insurance plan that includes abortion except in the cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother. The Hyde Amendment, however, only legally applies to health programs administered under the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and related Agencies Appropriations Act, including Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Because the health care exchanges and other programs authorized and appropriated under the Affordable Care Act are separate from all other appropriations laws, the President’s promise to extend the Hyde amendment to the “newly created exchanges” was the game changer. The President got the votes of several pro-life democrats needed for passage.
Recent history now shows the President’s solemn promise to extend Hyde to the Affordable Care Act was a lie.
While the Hyde Amendment prohibits federal funds to any health plan that includes abortion except for rape, incest or to save the life of the mother, the Secretary of the Treasury pursuant to notice by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, is today making monthly advance payments with U.S. taxpayer funds to insurance companies or to exchanges to pay for health insurance plans that subsidize abortion on demand.
It couldn’t be more clear—the President is not extending the Hyde Amendment to the “newly created exchanges.”
Moreover, an extensive audit released last September by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that 1,036 Affordable Care Act exchange plans had abortion secretly embedded in the plan. If the Hyde Amendment truly had been applied the number of plans with elective abortion coverage would be zero.
We live in an age of ultrasound imaging—the ultimate window to the womb and the child who resides there. We are in the midst of a fetal health care revolution, an explosion of benign interventions designed to diagnose, treat and cure the precious lives of these youngest patients. We also know unborn children, at least by 20 weeks, or about 6 months, feel horrific pain while being aborted.
Because of this, Americans have consistently demanded—and now in ever-growing numbers—that public funds not pay for abortion. The Marist Poll released this month found that 68 percent of Americans oppose taxpayer funding for abortions, and that includes 69 percent of women; 71 percent of the millennials. The younger generation knows that we cannot build a better future by paying for the destruction of the most vulnerable among us.
(Rep. Chris Smith is the author of HR 7, the No Taxpayers Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act.)