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Obama Admin. Claims Obamacare Isn't Paying for Abortions in Pennsylvania

A muddled clarification.

1:57 PM, Jul 15, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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If you read the text of Obama's executive order on abortion, you'll see that it essentially affirms the abortion language in the Senate bill that was passed by the House and signed into law by the president. The order claims that the health care "Act"--not the executive order--"maintains current Hyde Amendment restrictions governing abortion policy and extends those restrictions to the newly created health insurance exchanges."

The order claims that "the Act's segregation [of funding] requirements" already meet the standard of the Hyde amendment. The argument that the Senate bill already prohibited federal funding of abortion coverage was advanced by Planned Parenthood and pro-choice Democrats, but rejected by pro-lifers--including Bart Stupak.

In an interview with THE WEEKLY STANDARD last month, Stupak said he agreed the Senate bill wasn't acceptable and then made the (false) claim that the Senate bill's abortion language had somehow changed between the time it passed the Senate in December and when the president signed it into law in March:

Three months after his career-defining health care vote, Michigan Democratic representative Bart Stupak still bristles at questions surrounding the deal he cut with President Obama on abortion. “The executive order says public funds cannot be used for abortion,” says Stupak, and those who say otherwise are “dishonest.”

Stupak may not be dishonest, but he’s certainly mistaken about the executive order that secured his vote, and the votes of other self-proclaimed pro-life Democrats, for Obamacare. Doesn’t the executive order simply affirm the Senate bill’s main abortion-funding provision that Ben Nelson signed off on—a provision that Stupak called “unacceptable” back in December? “I didn’t like the Nelson language on December 24, and up through that time,” Stupak replies. “Then there were changes in it, in the final bill. They cleaned it up quite a bit. There were changes made.” In fact, the abortion language passed by the Senate on December 24 is identical to the language signed into law by President Obama on March 23.

“I didn’t think we were going to get into the nitty gritty,” Stupak says after I ask him about the section of the executive order that says subsidized plans may cover elective abortions so long as federal subsidies are “segregated” from private dollars—the main funding mechanism of abortion in the bill and something Stupak had long rejected as a meaningless bookkeeping scheme. “I’m happy to call back if you want to get into the nitty gritty,” he says, “but in all honesty I don’t have [the executive order] sitting here in front of me.” Stupak said that on June 15. He never called back.

Congressman Dan Lipinski (D, Ill.) says he told Stupak before the vote on the bill in March that the executive order is ineffective:  “the executive order probably would not stand [in court] and even if it did stand, it only covered part of the abortion funding—the direct funding of abortion [at Community Health Centers], not the fees for [subsidized] health plans.”

The issue of federal funding of abortion has been made intentionally confusing by pro-choice Democrats because they want federally subsidized plans to include coverage for elective abortions but know that that's deeply unpopular.

Yet there's a fairly easy test to resolve whether a federally subsidized plan covers abortion: Does an individual on a subsidized plan have to pay out of pocket for an elective abortion (or purchase a separate insurance policy rider covering abortion), or does that individual pay the normal copayment for an elective abortion?

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