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Op-Ed: Healthcare Reform Contains Hidden Abortion Mandate


Location: Washington, DC

Healthcare Reform Contains Hidden Abortion Mandate

By Congressman Joe Pitts

House committees have begun consideration of the largest piece of health care legislation in decades. I have been critical of the healthcare reform proposals being offered by Democrats in Congress because of the so-called public option, which will crowd out private insurance providers and eventually lead to government owned healthcare. Government owned healthcare will place bureaucrats in Washington in charge of your healthcare options. This is wrong. Healthcare decisions must be made by you and your doctor.

I am also very concerned about the tax that has been proposed as a way to pay for this massive expansion of the entitlement state. Democrats have proposed to add a surcharge tax to higher income individuals. This may work politically, but its terrible policy, especially during a recession. Small business owners pay their businesses' taxes on their individual tax returns, as opposed to the corporate income tax. So the bill will place a stifling new tax - up to an additional 5.4 percent - on the job creators in our economy: small businesses. In a deep recession, with unemployment at a 26-year high, that's the last thing our country needs.

However, there is another very serious concern with the plan being offered in the House of which most Americans are not aware. It will lead to mandated coverage of abortion, forcing employers and insurance providers to cover abortion as a healthcare procedure and subsidizing abortions with the tax dollars of pro-life Americans who have grave moral objections.

Under the proposed legislation, virtually every individual will be required to have health care that meets the "minimum benefit standards" established by the administration. Without an explicit exclusion, abortion will be determined to be included in these benefit standards.

President Obama himself stated that "reproductive care is essential care, basic care." And 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. And that resulted in over 300,00 abortions a year before the Hyde amendment banned public funding for abortion in Medicaid. 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. The issue here is clear - if abortion is not explicitly excluded, it is implicitly included. The stakes are high and the implications incredibly far-reaching.

This will affect Americans across the country throughout all walks of life. It will affect the insurance companies that are forced to cover abortion. It will affect the employers, who will be forced to purchase plans that cover abortion. It will affect the individuals, who are forced to pay for coverage of abortion.
In fact, any individual who does not have a plan that meets the minimum benefit standards, which will undoubtedly include abortion unless it is excluded, will be forced to pay a 2.5 percent tax penalty. Any employer who does not provide coverage that meets these standards will pay a tax penalty of 8 percent of average wages.

There are many communities across America that do not have abortion services because they are unwanted. Abortion clinics would be forced onto these communities because of the access to abortion mandate that will result from the bill. And as the number of abortion clinics increase, so will the number of abortions.

The plan would run roughshod over state laws that limit abortion in various ways. Laws requiring parental consent, limiting late-term abortions, or prohibiting non-physicians from performing abortions would all be pre-empted. This represents a federal mandate, similar to the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), from liberal politicians in Washington forcing their values onto the people of America—in the face of strong moral opposition from millions of Americans.

This legislation will mandate and subsidize abortion and then tax the Americans who stand for one of the very principles that this nation was founded on - the right to life. Americans who are morally opposed to abortion should not have to pay for abortions with their tax dollars against their will.

I will offer two amendments to the bill in the Energy and Commerce Committee to deal with the abortion mandate. The first amendment will keep private insurers from having to provide abortion coverage, and the second amendment will ensure that taxpayer money does not go to subsidize abortion.

Any healthcare reform plan must contain explicit language to ensure that no American is forced to finance abortions and that employers and healthcare providers are not forced to provide coverage for abortion against their moral objections. The pro-life majority of Americans will not stand for a healthcare reform plan that promotes abortion over life and forces Washington politicians' liberal values onto communities across the country.

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