Written by Nathan Tucker
This past Wednesday, President Obama signed the executive order that bought him the necessary votes to pass his health care reform bill. The order, which claims “to ensure that Federal funds are not used for abortion services,” was necessary to assure the votes of Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI) and a handful of other “pro-life” Democrats.
But does the health care bill really allow for taxpayer funding of abortions and, if so, does the executive order stop such funding? These are questions vital to millions of pro-lifers in this country, and if the answers are less than satisfactory they will face a crisis of conscience—continue to pay taxes at the expense of their conscience or refuse and face fines and imprisonment.
Contrary to Democratic claims, an examination of the law shows the federal funding of abortion is not only allowed, but in some cases courts may well find it to be required. For instance, the law requires the federal government to operate two or more national insurance plans. However, the law only requires that “at least one” of these plans not cover abortion, leaving the other national heath care plans free to cover elective abortions.
Also, the Nelson-Boxer amendment creates, in essence, an abortion surcharge. If a person enrolls in a federally subsidized health care plan that covers elective abortions, that person will be required to make a separate payment into a fund to be used exclusively for elective abortions. Rep. Stupak knew of this requirement and had offered an amendment to remove it but, even though his amendment was rejected, he still voted for the bill.
In addition, there are over 2,500 “powers and responsibilities” given to the Secretary of Health and Human Services in the law, and none of them restricts the Secretary from requiring health plans to cover abortion or provide expanded coverage to the procedure. Under the Mikulski Amendment, for instance, the Secretary could force every private health plan to cover abortions merely by placing abortions on a list of “preventative” services.
The law also intentionally provided billions of dollars that fall outside the Hyde Amendment–$7 billion for Community Health Centers, $5 billion for temporary high-risk health insurance pool programs, and $6 billion in grants and loans for health co-ops. In the past, courts have held that, if funds are not covered by the Hyde Amendment, they must be used to pay for abortions, and it is only a matter of time before a lawsuit is brought to compel the same result in this case.
But what about the executive order signed by Obama? An executive order cannot change, repeal, or amend the provisions of a law. Once the bill is passed by both chambers and the president signs it, the only way it can be altered is by the same process. The executive order was pure window-dressing to provide political cover for “pro-life” Democrats. Sadly, this incident has shown that Democrats are Democrats first and only pro-life second.
Since the law provides for taxpayer money to be used to fund abortions, what recourse do pro-lifers have? There is no such thing as a “conscientious objector” exception in the tax code, which means that, regardless of how immoral you consider the uses your tax money is put to, you are still obligated to pay Uncle Sam.
In the end, therefore, pro-lifers may have no other recourse but to resort to civil disobedience. But before that occurs, we should make every effort at the ballot box and in courts to repeal this legislation before it is used to pay for the taking of innocent life.
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