Congressman Joe Pitts (PA-16) offered the following opening statement during today's hearing on H.R. 3200, the House Democrats' healthcare reform bill.
Under the proposed legislation, virtually every individual will be required to have health care coverage that meets "minimum benefits standards" established by the administration. Those minimum benefits will include abortion unless Congress acts to explicitly exclude abortion from any government mandated coverage or taxpayer funded health plan. Historical experience with federal statutes demonstrates that if abortion is not explicitly excluded, administrative agencies and the courts will mandate it.
Text of the speech is below:
Under the proposed legislation, virtually every individual will be required to have health care that meets "minimum benefit standards." The bill does not define these minimum benefit standards, but instead establishes a new government health board called the "Health Benefits Advisory Committee." This Committee, chaired by the Surgeon General and, in concert with the Secretary of Health and Human Services, will issue binding decrees on what is or is not considered a minimum federal benefit standard.
There is no doubt that this process will result in mandated coverage of abortion, along with federal subsidies for such coverage, unless Congress explicitly excludes abortion. When talking about health care reform, President Obama himself stated that "reproductive care is essential care, basic care." And Secretary Clinton just recently clarified that "reproductive health includes access to abortion."
History has demonstrated that unless abortion is explicitly excluded, administrative agencies and the courts will mandate it. We have seen this time and time again. The federal Medicaid statute was silent on abortion, but the administration and the courts deemed abortion-on-demand to be mandated coverage. Then in 1979, Congressman Henry Hyde asked the Indian Health Service where they found the authority to pay for abortions. They responded, "We would have no basis for refusing to pay for abortions." In both of these cases, explicit exclusions had to be added to ensure that taxpayers would not have to continue to pay for abortions.
Under this bill, any individual who does not have a plan that meets the minimum benefit standards will be forced to pay a 2.5 percent tax penalty. And any employer who does not provide coverage that meets these standards will pay up to an 8 percent tax penalty. This means that Americans who do not want a plan that pays for abortion will be penalized for it.
In addition to mandating coverage of abortion, this bill will provide massive subsidies for abortion. It will authorize and appropriate funding for premium subsidies. And without explicit language to clarify that taxpayer dollars cannot and should not fund abortion, massive subsidies for premiums and cost-sharing will be used to pay for abortions, against the moral objections of millions of pro-life Americans.
The issue here is simple - Americans should not be forced to have their tax dollars pay for abortion. Nor should they be forced to be unwitting participants as the abortion industry uses this law to mainstream the destruction of human life into America's health care industry. Health care is about saving and nurturing life, not about taking life. The majority of Americans do not support public funding of abortion and should not have abortion coverage thrust upon them.