Friday, March 19, 2010

Health Care Bill -- Another Update

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) argues in this report that the current health care reform bill isn't covered by the Hyde Amendment and would indeed provide federal funding of abortions.
Fact #3: The new funding appropriated for community health centers by the Senate health care bill is not covered by the Hyde Amendment.

This should be clear from the wording of the Hyde Amendment itself: "None of the funds appropriate in this Act" may be used for most abortions (referring to the annual Labor/HHS appropriations act). The Senate bill's new funds are not appropriate in the Labor/HHS appropriations act, so Hyde does not cover them.
The report traces the legal precedents set by federal courts on the issue of abortion funding. The astonishing fact is that federal funds are required to pay for abortions as necessary health care for women, except if the legislation that appropriates funds specifically excludes abortion.

If it weren't for the Hyde Amendment, even state legislatures would actually be required to fund abortions. For instance:
When the Hyde amendment ceased to prohibit use of federal Medicaid funds for abortions in cases of rape and incest in 1993, federal courts throughout the country ruled that states participating in the program were now required by the underlying Medicaid statute to provide and help pay for rape/incest abortions--even if that meant overriding state constitutions that allow state funding of abortion only in cases of danger to the life of the mother.
I guess the reality is, most of us, even pro-lifers, don't really know how bad things already are. The courts are basically ready to pounce on our freedom of conscience. They are restrained only when health care legislation specifically says abortion will not be covered. If that wording isn't there, the courts have set a precedent of going to the opposite extreme: abortion must be covered.

For example:
A similar situation came to light in 1979, when members of Congress asked why the Indian Health Service (IHS) was continuing to provide abortions despite enactment of the Hyde amendment. The agency replied that it had no choice but to do so: The authorizing legislation for the IHS created a broad mandate for services to conserve the "health" of Indians, and the Interior appropriations bill funding these services contained no abortion limitation like the Hyde amendment to the Labor/HHS bill. Therefore "we would have no basis for refusing to pay for abortions" (Letter from Director of the Indian Health Service to Cong. Henry Hyde, July 30, 1979). Not until 1988 did Congress finally revise the authorizing legislation for the IHS to require that program to conform to the annual Hyde amendment.
The USCCB argues that the current Senate health care bill has exactly the same flaw: it's not covered by the Hyde amendment, because the Hyde amendment amended a particular appropriations bill.

Clearly the Hyde amendment is not a law in its own right. Therefore every health care bill that would be passed by Congress must contain its own language that specifically prevents abortion funding--its own Hyde amendment. The current Senate bill apparently does not.

It's hard to know who to believe, but frankly I'm more inclined to trust the USCCB than all the liberals in Congress who want to take my money for their political purposes, far more than organizations like Planned Parenthood who profit from the promotion of abortion.

So I'm going to try to call Congressman Perriello again and tell him I'm against this bill. Congress has no right to take our money without guaranteeing that it won't be funneled toward abortion.

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