May 04,2011

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Hatch, Coburn, Group of Senators Introduce Legislation Preventing Federal Funding of Abortion in Health Law

Legislation Would Codify Longstanding Policy, Close Loopholes, Provide Conscience Protections to Health Providers

WASHINGTON – A large group of Senators, including Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), today introduced legislation, the Protect Life Act (S. 877), that would codify longstanding policy preventing taxpayer funding of abortion and apply it to the partisan health law. 

“A strong majority of the American people do not believe that scarce taxpayer dollars should be used to fund abortions.  This common-sense legislation would ensure that doesn’t happen with respect to the highly-partisan health law,” said Hatch. 

“Forcing Americans to pay for abortion services with their own dollars is a grave abuse of government authority. The administration’s track record of ambiguity in this area underscores the need for federal legislation clarifying, once and for all, that public funds will not be used to pay for abortion services under the new health law,” Dr. Coburn said.

“This bill is a step in the right direction to ensure taxpayer dollars are not used to fund abortions. I remain committed to repealing and replacing the President’s costly health spending law with commonsense solutions that we can work together and agree upon,” said Blunt.

“While we will continue the important work of fighting to repeal ObamaCare, Senator Hatch’s bill is a common sense piece of legislation that clearly states that no taxpayer money should be used to fund abortion as part of the new health care law,” said Rubio.

“Taxpayer dollars shouldn’t be used to fund a practice that millions of Americans find deeply troubling. While repealing the national health care law remains my ultimate goal, stopping federal money from financing abortions is an urgent priority,” said Ayotte. “In addition to safeguarding taxpayer resources, this bill also preserves the Hyde-Weldon conscience protections for physicians who choose to not provide abortion services.”

The legislation, which mirrors an amendment Hatch introduced when the Senate Finance Committee considered the health law, has also been cosponsored by Senator Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), David Vitter (R-La.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), John Boozeman (R-Ark.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), John Thune (R-S.D.), James Risch (R-Idaho), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho).  Representatives Joe Pitts (R-PA) and Dan Lipinski (D-IL) have introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives. 

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) allows taxpayer-funded abortions through insurance policies, the pre-existing condition insurance plans, federally qualified health centers, and health plans administered by the federal government. PPACA’s various loopholes and direct appropriation of funds to new mandatory health programs mean that substantial amounts of taxpayer dollars are not subject to the annual pro-life appropriations rider, commonly known as the Hyde Amendment. 

Furthermore, the health law does not fully protect health care professionals and entities who are morally opposed to abortions, and leaves them vulnerable to discrimination for refusing to perform abortions.

The Protect Life Act guarantees that no taxpayer dollars flow to cover elective abortions by applying the longstanding policy of the Hyde Amendment to the new health care law and provides protections for health care providers who are opposed to abortions.  Specifically, the Protect Life Act:

• Eliminates the Capps accounting gimmick to create real separation by requiring abortion plans to be sold separately from health care plans receiving federal dollars.  This protects Americans from being forced to pay an “abortion surcharge” in order to obtain a health care plan.
• Closes a loophole in PPACA to ensure that state laws restricting abortion or protecting conscience rights will not be preempted by federal law.
• Restricts any federal bureaucrats or political appointees from mandating private abortion plans to cover abortion.
• Amends PPACA to offer comprehensive and permanent pro-life protections, consistent with longstanding public laws and the bipartisan Stupak Amendment. 
• Prevents the Office of Personnel Management from contracting with or administering health plans that include abortion.