Pro-life leaders, including the heads of the March for Life and the Susan B. Anthony List, are raising concerns over the potential removal of pro-life language, included in the House-passed bill, from the Senate’s discussion draft released Thursday. The draft currently would create a new set of tax credits for people to buy insurance that includes Hyde Amendment language, a spending rider that prohibits taxpayer funding of abortions.
In keeping with Hyde Amendment language, effective 2018, the bill redefines a qualified health plan, to prohibit plans from covering abortion other than in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. It also cuts off federal family planning funding from organizations that provide abortions like Planned Parenthood.
Parliamentary rules pose a problem for the abortion language in the bill, however, as the Senate’s “Byrd Rule” governing budget reconciliation debate requires that provisions in the healthcare bill be budget-related and the parliamentarian has indicated that the new tax credits would not make the cut.
Jeanne Mancini, President of the March for Life told Townhall Friday in a statement that if the pro-life protections in the bill are removed, “one of the most egregious aspects of Obamacare -- tax credits for plans covering abortion -- will continue under this Administration and Congress. Abortion is not healthcare."
"While we appreciate the inclusion of language to redirect federal funds away from abortion groups like Planned Parenthood, the reality is that necessary pro-life protections in this bill will be stripped by the Senate Parliamentarian, as we have now publicly heard from two Senators,” she said.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) expressed their support of the pro-life protections in the Senate’s draft in a statement Thursday, calling the protections “essential.”
“The Bishops value language in the legislation recognizing that abortion is not health care by attempting to prohibit the use of taxpayer funds to pay for abortion or plans that cover it,” they write. “While questions remain about the provisions and whether they will remain in the final bill, if retained and effective this would correct a flaw in the Affordable Care Act by fully applying the longstanding and widely-supported Hyde amendment protections. Full Hyde protections are essential and must be included in the final bill.”
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins and Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser were concerned but optimistic about pro-life priorities in a joint statement issued Friday regarding the bill.
“The expectations of the pro-life movement have been very clear: The health care bill must not indefinitely subsidize abortion and must re-direct abortion giant Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer funding to community health centers,” they said.
“The Senate discussion draft includes these pro-life priorities, but we remain very concerned that either of these priorities could be removed from the bill for procedural or political reasons,” they add. “We are working closely with our pro-life allies in the Senate to prevent this from happening as it could result in our opposition. We are confident that the pro-life Senate will ultimately move forward with our pro-life priorities intact.”
Live Action President Lila Rose commented Thursday that “while today’s draft Senate bill has the potential to go a long way toward eliminating taxpayer-funded support for abortion, there are two critical components that must remain in the final version. The final bill must stop taxpayer funding to America’s largest abortion chain, and it must prohibit the use of taxpayer subsidies to pay for insurance policies that pay for abortions."