Casey Mattox

While the Supreme Court prepares for the showdown over the constitutionality of ObamaCare next week, another important battle over the controversial law is playing out in a state court in Rhode Island.

Rhode Island Right to Life and 38 members of the Rhode Island General Assembly are fighting to stop Gov. Lincoln Chafee’s unilateral creation of an ObamaCare health insurance exchange that would subsidize elective abortions without a vote by the peoples’ elected representatives. At issue is whether even the basic constitutional separation of powers will be another casualty of the abortion distortion, the tendency of the law (the First Amendment, parental rights, standing, etc.) to be distorted in order to facilitate abortion.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a.k.a., ObamaCare, asks that states create (or have the federal government create for them) health insurance exchanges that will approve qualifying plans for uninsured persons. Premiums for plans in an exchange are then subsidized with federal taxpayer dollars.

And because the Hyde Amendment, a decades-old federal law limiting abortion funding or subsidies does not directly apply to ObamaCare—and is subject to annual expiration—elective abortions for any purpose could be subsidized by taxpayer dollars in a state health insurance exchange. The only thing standing in its way would be President Obama’s executive order (of dubious authority) stating that abortion restrictions in the Hyde Amendment would be applied to the health insurance exchanges. And of course his executive order is subject to his own rescission or amendment at any time. Even those who rely on the executive order to claim, wrongly, that Obamacare doesn’t fund elective abortions must acknowledge that President Obama can rescind that order at any time. Abortion funding rests on his shoulders.

The members of the Rhode Island General Assembly take very seriously their constitutional responsibility to make law. They also are concerned about the prospect that the state’s citizens could be forced to subsidize elective abortions in violation of their consciences.

Casey Mattox

Casey Mattox is senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom