March 20, 2012

Why you may soon be paying directly for abortion

By Rebecca Ryskind Teti *

Do you want to pay for someone’s abortion? Take money out of your wallet and directly fund the taking of a human life?

The thought may horrify you, but that’s exactly what you may be compelled to do under a little-scrutinized provision of our new health care law.

While the political debate over the Affordable Health Care Act (“Obamacare” for short) has thus far centered on the injustice of compelling even religious insurers to cover abortion-inducing drugs and sterilization, most of us haven’t noticed that the new law will make many Americans directly complicit in surgical abortion outright.

Here’s how it works according to recently finalized federal regulations.

Beginning in 2014, if you are enrolled in an insurance plan that happens to cover elective abortion, your insurer will charge you two separate fees.

One payment will be your premium for your regular insurance coverage. As a separate line item, you will additionally be charged a minimum $1 per month for a special fund solely for elective abortions. This citizen-funded “abortion kitty” will be overseen by state insurance commissioners, as mandated by the Obama administration's new final rule.

Ironically, this convoluted way of doing things is the result of former pro-life Congressman Bart Stupak’s effort to block abortion funding back when the health care bill was being debated.

For years, tax-payer funding of abortion has been banned by a measure known as the Hyde Amendment: a rider attached to government spending bills to prevent federal funds from being used for abortion.

In 2010 during the congressional debate, former Congressman Stupak (D-MI) tried to get Hyde language applied to Obamacare, and refused to vote for the bill without it. He could not win sufficient support for his amendment, but the President persuaded him to vote for the health care bill anyway, in exchange for a Presidential executive order preventing federal funding of abortion.

The result is this new regulation. The government isn’t going to pay for abortion: you are.

The good news is that if you have a pro-life plan – if your insurance provider doesn’t cover elective abortion—the new rule won’t apply to you, and every insurance exchange must include at least one pro-life option.

Don’t breathe easy yet, though.  The regulation expressly states that insurers don’t have to tell you about their abortion fee mandate until after you enroll, and once you’re enrolled you can’t decline to pay the fee.

Furthermore, the rule severely limits the consumer choices of the majority of citizens who object to abortion. What if the pro-life insurance provider in your exchange doesn’t participate with your preferred doctor network? Or doesn’t offer the deductible level you need for your budget? Or doesn’t cover medical services required for your particular needs?

You will be forced to choose between being directly complicit in the taking of human life and protecting your own and your family’s life and health.

It’s for this reason that Nikolas Nikas and Dorinda Bordlee of the Bioethics Defense Fund recently filed a brief with the Supreme Court, arguing on the side of 26 state attorneys general  that the so-called “individual mandate” – the requirement that you must buy a product the government wants you to buy whether or not you want to, and against your own conscience and religious beliefs—is unconstitutional.

In addition to stretching the Commerce Clause of the Constitution beyond its legitimate authority, they argue, the individual mandate also violates the Free Exercise Clause and the conscience rights of millions of Americans.

Why are we just hearing about this now? 

Partly because the President's executive order quelled further scrutiny at the time, but also because  Secretary of HHS Kathleen Sebelius only finalized the regulation implementing the hidden Obamacare abortion mandate on March 12, 2012.

361 times in the text of the Affordable Health Care Act, the language provides that the Secretary of HHS will specify how some general provision will apply.

So though the law was passed two years ago, we are only gradually discovering what is in it as Secretary Sebelius “fills in the blanks” by writing the details.

To learn more about the hidden abortion mandate, visit the Bioethics Defense Fund’s page on the subject:

Rebecca Ryskind Teti is Operations Coordinator for the Ciocca Center for Principled Entrepreneurship at the Busch School of Business & Economics at CUA, though the opinions are her own. This column is modified from an earlier version that first appeared in Faith & Family  magazine.

* Catholic News Agency columns are opinion and do not necessarily express the perspective of the agency.


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