By Shauna Segadelli, 2L, Northeastern University School of Law
In 2010, President Obama cut a deal with pro-life Democrats. The President promised that the public wouldn’t pay for abortions, in consideration of the House majority needed to pass his health care bill.
On March 24, 2010, Mr. President Obama signed a special executive order limiting federal abortion funding, for purposes of the Affordable Care Act, to cases of rape, of incest, and when the mother’s life is in danger. The order’s language is consistent with the 1976 Hyde Amendment, which has annually forbidden tax dollars from funding abortion, with the same exceptions.
Executive Order 13535 never carried the force of law; in fact, the pro-life community always knew the order amounted to a cute token replacing the Stupak Amendment, which would have basically given the order’s assurances binding effect.
Heralding the recent debut of the Obamacare exchanges, the Charlotte Lozier Institute released a report surveying the methods by which tens of thousands of abortions, per year, will be federally funded through the “Multi-State Plans” provided for by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
The bottom line: Mr. President broke his promise. Thanks to Obamacare, you’re going to pay for abortions whether you want to or not. Arriving at a confident estimate of the numbers of dollars involved or abortions funded approaches impossibility, thanks to a legislative jungle in which every phrase invites a Supreme Court battle.
The 1983 Smith Amendment prohibits federal funds from subsidizing abortions. A legal fiction supposedly circumvents the amendment’s prohibition, by which the insured’s premium pays for the abortion coverage, while federal funds only pay for other health care.
How do the abortion-covering plans work? Some states run their own exchanges (or “health care marketplaces”), but citizens of all states can access the federally-subsidized Multi-State Plans. Laws in twenty-three states bar abortion-covering insurance plans from their states’ exchanges. Twenty-seven states, along with Washington, D.C., do not prohibit plans from covering abortions in their exchanges; in those locations, each exchange is expected to have at least one plan that covers abortions, and at least one plan that does not cover them. Insurers decide individually if their plans – which compete with the Multi-State Plans on the exchanges – will cover abortions.
Your dollars will fund the plans of women who choose abortion coverage. (Students for Life of America has a neat graphic.)
Lozier Institute president Chuck Donovan told the National Catholic Register that “A taxpayer may have an individual plan that does not cover elective abortion, but his or her tax dollars will be increasingly flowing to public and private plans in other states that reimburse for abortions at a higher rate than previously seen in American health care.”
Further, all plans (in the exchanges) cover such “essential services” as sterilization, artificial contraception, and emergency contraception (or as the federal exchange website puts it, “Maternity and newborn care (care before and after your baby is born)”).
The Lozier Institute’s numbers suggest that one in ten abortions may be paid for by American taxpayers. As a woman, I would like to exercise my right to choose that my money go to life-affirming health care. What if our tax dollars supported crisis pregnancy centers – which help women who choose to carry their unplanned babies to term – instead of, or in addition to, abortion providers?
Publicly funded crimes against humanity are nothing new. Taxpayers pay for executions of prisoners. Taxpayers pay for ugly, unjust wars. We have paid for wartime internment camps, compulsory sterilizations, and the Indian Removal Act of 1830. I have no doubt that the test of time will relegate our era of mass abortions to the ranks of the antebellum South.
But this specific relic within pro-abortion legal culture in our country – taxpayer-funded abortions via Obamacare – need not await the exacting gavel of removed historical perspective to judge the character of its legacy. Americans have already done so in the court of public opinion. 80% of Americans think that abortion is unacceptable in the last trimester, which all states permit when the mother’s “health” is in danger (defined by the Supreme Court as a “medical judgment [that] may be exercised in the light of all factors – physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age – relevant to the well-being of the patient.”).
Neither is the Affordable Care Act popular among Americans. Taxpayer-funded abortion sits at the intersection of two deeply unpopular legal institutions – Obamacare and abortion – and the President pretended it wouldn’t.
A health care law that promotes the common good will be founded upon neither universal, on-demand abortion nor lies. Instead, it will encourage the basic vocation of health care: the promotion of all human life.
About the Author:
Shauna Segadelli is a second-year student at Northeastern University School of Law in Boston, MA. She earned her BA in Theology from Villanova University in 2012. Shauna is on Twitter @Shaunannana.