As the nation awaits the Supreme Court’s ruling on Obamacare, much attention has been paid to the constitutional questions surrounding the individual mandate—and rightly so. Considerable attention has also focused on the ways Obamacare has already and will further harm our nation’s health care and how it has trampled religious liberty. But we shouldn’t forget something even more fundamental to justice: Obamacare is hostile to life, and it set a new precedent by federally subsidizing abortion.
An article by Bill Saunders and Anna Franzonello in the Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics, and Public Policy explains the health law’s shift in federal abortion policy. Prior to the passage of Obamacare, long-standing policy was that federal tax dollars were not to be used to pay for abortion or to pay for plans that cover abortions. As they note: “At the time of the health care reform debate, no government health plans covered elective abortion, including Medicaid, the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, and other programs. The ‘status quo’ prior to the PPACA was that federal tax dollars are not used to pay for abortion nor for insurance plans that cover abortions.”
What happened after the passage of Obamacare? They go on to explain:
The final Senate bill, H.R. 3590, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, passed on December 24, 2009. The bill, which is now the law, violates the principles of the Hyde Amendment by allowing federal subsidies to be applied to insurance plans that cover abortion. Other provisions of the bill could be used to mandate abortion coverage by exchange plans and even require all insurance providers to cover abortion. Additionally, the Senate bill provides that if the Hyde Amendment ever fails to be renewed, federal funds may pay directly for abortion under health care reform.
As I argued several years ago in an article for First Things:
A look at its clear statutory language in light of prevailing judicial precedent shows that this bill is woefully deficient on abortion and conscience protection. Events since its passage confirm this. In particular, (1) the Hyde Amendment does not apply to the act; (2) President Obama’s executive order is legally ineffective at extending to it Hyde-like protections; (3) community health centers funded by PPACA may even be required to perform abortions; (4) the health-care exchanges established by the act will fund plans that cover abortion and thus force citizens to either fund abortion directly or possibly forgo the best plan for them; and (5) the act allows the government to discriminate against pro-life doctors and health providers.
Nothing has changed in the meantime, which should give those concerned with the sanctity of human life additional reasons to oppose Obamacare.