By Charmaine Yoest President and CEO of Americans United for Life.
… Democratic leaders claim that all they want is to maintain the "status quo" on abortion. In reality, maintaining what we have now isn't even on the table. To do that, a health-care bill would have to explicitly prevent federal dollars from being used for elective abortions. Provisions that would have done that were killed by all five committees that have handled health-care reform bills this year. Instead, the abortion compromise in the works is a provision modeled on an amendment Rep. Lois Capps (D., Calif.) added to the House bill.
The Capps Amendment is a radical departure from the status quo. As it stands now, the federal government does not pay into health-care plans that cover elective abortions. What's more, no government health plans cover elective abortion, period. That includes Medicaid, the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, the State Children's Health Insurance Program, and other programs. … there is a provision added each year to a spending bill that prohibits states from using the matching funds they receive from the federal government for Medicaid to pay for abortions. That provision is called the Hyde Amendment. The status quo now is that no dollar—federal or state—associated with Medicaid may pay for elective abortions.
Current federal law also protects American taxpayers from paying for abortions as part of the health benefits given to federal employees—not one of the insurance plans offered includes abortion coverage. The Capps Amendment would side step the Hyde Amendment and other provisions in federal law. If it becomes law as part of health-care reform it would make abortion coverage a part of the public option, funnel tax dollars to private health plans that cover abortion, and ensure that every area of the country will have at least one health insurance plan that covers elective abortion. If this should happen, for the first time in more than 30 years the federal government would be in the business of funding the destruction of unborn human life.
The Capps Amendment sets up an accounting mechanism that is supposed to make sure that federal dollars do not directly pay for elective abortions. But this is a dodge. Federal dollars would still subsidize insurance plans that pay for abortions. The only honest way to maintain the status quo is to add a provision modeled after the Hyde Amendment to any health-care reform that becomes law. Why is the Capps Amendment being sold on the false premise that it would maintain the status quo? Because otherwise the American people would not go along with it. A Rasmussen poll released last month showed that only 13% of Americans want the health-care reform bill to use tax dollars to fund abortions. A Pew Research Center poll two weeks ago showed that support for legalized abortion has dropped to its lowest level in years to 47%, down from 54% last year. If Democrats really want to maintain the abortion status quo, they would drop the Capps Amendment and add a Hyde Amendment to explicitly exclude funding abortion. The Capps Amendment takes us toward a new era of unprecedented federal abortion funding.
[Big H/T to Lee Habeeb]