Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker has denied that President Obama’s executive order barring funding for abortions is of any enforceable value, saying the legislation’s funding provisions regarding abortion are “intentionally complicated.” She predicts that abortions will be funded at Community Health Centers because of the health care bill.
Opening her Sunday column by saying abortion is the last thing she wants to talk about, she charged that the president’s executive order on abortion funding cannot override statute.
Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), who secured the executive order in exchange for his support for the legislation, has described the order as an “ironclad” ban on abortion funding.
According to Parker, defenders of the health care bill have also said the bill nowhere says funds will go towards abortion and that the Hyde Amendment prohibiting federal funding for abortion applies to the legislation.
“Both are true - up to a point. It isn’t what the bill says; it’s what it doesn’t say,” Parker continued.
While the bill does not explicitly appropriate abortion funding and uses terminology that seems to “explicitly” forbid it, she said other areas are “swampier” and funds could be use to pay for abortion as circumstances change.
She explained that the Hyde Amendment is a rider that must be attached each year to the annual appropriations bill for the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services.
“Under its terms, it applies only to those funds,” Parker commented.
The Community Health Centers (CHCs) are not funded through this appropriations budget but rather does “an end-run around Hyde” by appropriating billions of dollars for a new “CHC Fund.”
“Because the Obama administration’s ‘fix-it’ bill did not include the abortion-ban language proposed by Rep. Bart Stupak, those billions appropriated to CHCs simply are not covered by Hyde,” Parker claimed.
While President Obama’s executive order purports to extend the Hyde Amendment restrictions to these dollars, she added, “regardless of Obama’s stated intentions, he can’t actually do this without an act of Congress.”
Although defenders of the bill say abortions aren’t performed at CHCs, under the new law they can, Parker argued.
“There’s nothing to stop them,” she said, explaining that statute requires them to provide all required primary health care services, including those related to “obstetrics or gynecology that are furnished by physicians.”
“Federal courts long have held that when a statute requires provision of health services under such broad categories, then the statute must be construed to include abortion unless it explicitly excludes it. Voila.”
“Prediction: Abortions will be performed at CHCs, you can bet your foreclosed mortgage on that,” her Washington Post column concluded. “There was always a will by this administration, and now there’s a way.”