Life Advocacy Briefing

October 14, 2013

The New Era: Subsidizing Abortion / Justice Delayed Could Be Justice Denied
Undermining Their Own Case / Telemed Abortion Ban Upheld by Legislative Panel
Albuquerque Vote is On / Useful, Ongoing History / Searching for Subsidies

The New Era: Subsidizing Abortion

WITH ALL THE NEWS ABOUT OBAMACARE and justifiable pro-life angst about the contraception mandate and lack of conscience protections for medical professionals, pro-life citizens must focus also on the abortion subsidy ramifications.

Near the close of this Life Advocacy Briefing, we are reprinting a blog commentary rehearsing the history and value of the Hyde Amendment, which many believe bars federal funding of abortion but which actually bars abortion funding under appropriations to the Dept. of Health & Human Services. ObamaCare, as the President has been eager to shout in recent weeks, has its own funding stream, apparently not subject to annual appropriations. (Another Constitution violation?)

Then we reprint an analysis by Chuck Donovan concerning the abortion subsidy hidden within the [Un-]Affordable Care Act for ordinary citizens. We have reported previously also on the ObamaCare bypass of the Smith Amendment, which since 1983 has protected taxpayers from subsidizing abortion coverage for federal employees and their dependents; under a controversial ObamaCare regulation, Congressional Members and staff and their dependents now qualify for abortions in their heavily subsidized healthcare plans.

We are troubled to note introduction of legislation which seeks to assist ObamaCare insurance customers in discovering the abortion provisions of their insurance plans before choosing which to purchase. To us, this is a retreat from the longstanding standard of no-tax-dollars-for-elective-abortions, period. Nothing short of ObamaCare repeal will do.


Justice Delayed Could Be Justice Denied

THE OBAMA REGIME ATTEMPTED LAST WEEK TO USE THE SHUTDOWN as an excuse to delay the lawsuit by Priests for Life against the ObamaCare contraception coverage mandate. Federal District Judge Emmet Sullivan refused, reports the American Freedom Law Center (AFLC), which is representing the plaintiffs.

The judge took note of the fact that AFLC and plaintiffs had agreed to delay the case “if the federal government would agree to stay [delay] the enforcement of the challenged mandate until the court has had a chance to rule on the merits.” The mandate is set to take effect Jan. 1 of next year, and there is no guarantee – particularly if the judge were to delay the case – that the ruling will come down before then. The judge also took note of the refusal by the Justice Dept. lawyer to agree to such a reasonable request.

Wrote Judge Sullivan, quoted by AFLC, “‘In light of the irreparable harm alleged, the impending time-sensitive mandate, and defendants’ refusal to delay enforcement of the mandate as to the plaintiffs in this case, the Court finds that an indefinite stay would be incompatible with the fair administration of justice.’” Amen.

Noted AFLC senior counsel David Yerushalmi, quoted in the release, “‘The court’s ruling is about fundamental fairness. The Obama Administration should not be permitted to create the conditions of a government shutdown and then refuse to show up in court to defend a constitutionally offensive contraception mandate the President refuses to suspend during the shutdown.’” Amen again.


Undermining Their Own Case

THE PRIESTS FOR LIFE CASE IS ONLY ONE OBAMACARE MANDATE CHALLENGE which the Regime attempted Oct. 1 to delay. “The Dept. of Justice filed multiple requests,” writes Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) senior counsel Matt Bowman in a commentary in National Review Online, “challenging ObamaCare’s abortion-pill and birth-control mandate.”

Mr. Bowman calls the delay requests “ironic, [coming] from the Obama Administration. For two years,” he writes, “it has insisted that the abortion-pill mandate satisfies what’s known as the ‘compelling interest’ test, which only applies to the most grave and paramount duties that a government must pursue to survive. This means that the administration has continually ranked coerced birth-control coverage among the most important functions of government,” he writes.

But the Justice Dept. attorneys, notes Mr. Bowman, “stated that [the Justice Dept.] and the Departments of Health & Human Services, Labor and Treasury cannot defend the mandate during the shutdown because that work is not an essential activity need to protect ‘safety.’”

Bingo! The Obama lawyers, through the President’s insistence on shutting down the government rather than touching his healthcare takeover scheme, appear to have undermined what has been a key claim in their resistance to the plethora of pleas for relief from the egregious mandate.


Telemed Abortion Ban Upheld by Legislative Panel

AN IOWA LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE HAS, IN EFFECT, CONFIRMED the late August ruling of the state’s Board of Medicine ordering Planned Parenthood to end its remote-control business administering chemical abortions.

The legislature’s Administrative Rules Review Committee rejected a motion by Democratic State Sen. Tom Courtney to delay the rule, set to take effect Nov. 6. “Republicans on the … committee,” reports Associated Press (AP) writer David Pitt, “had enough votes to defeat the motion.”

The AP story quoted Mr. Courtney as calling the Board of Medicine’s action “‘just another way of sneaking around and trying to outlaw a legal procedure.’”

Nothing in the Food & Drug Administration’s already bad Clinton-era clearance of the French abortion drug RU-486 suggested the drug could safely be administered via computer teleconference. The soon-to-be-outlawed practice uses a computer in Des Moines, the Internet and a computer on a desk in one of 15 remote Planned Parenthood shops, by which the doctor interviews the customer and presses a computer key to pop open a drawer at the shop containing a pill for the aborting mother to ingest on the spot and another to take at home to expel the baby after he or she has died.

The Review Committee’s chairman, GOP Rep. Dawn Pettengill, reports Mr. Pitt, “said Monday many women develop complications, which can include heavy bleeding, after being sent home.” They can also develop infections, which in some cases have led to death. Planned Parenthood’s telemed abortion scheme not only excludes in-person physical examination beforehand but also does not provide for in-person follow-up consultation.  Rep. Pettengill “said the rule sets up a doctor-patient relationship that will be safer for patients,” a point which should be obvious to all but Planned Parenthood and its fellow-traveling politicians.

Some 16 states, reports AP, “have enacted laws barring telemedicine abortions … since 2011.” In Iowa, where the practice was first introduced in 2008, the ban has so far been limited to administrative ruling. The Democratic Party controls the Senate in Iowa, though Republicans hold a majority of seats in the House. The governor, Terry Branstad, is a Republican who is considered pro-life.


Albuquerque Vote is On

THOUGH THE ABORTION LOBBY TRIED TO FORESTALL – or even cancel – the upcoming Albuquerque referendum on banning five-month abortions in the city, the Nov. 19 special election will go on, according to a report by Cheryl Sullenger of Operation Rescue.

The city council acted Sept. 16 – as we have previously reported – to call an election in response to a citizens’ petition for a ban on aborting babies who have attained a pain-capable stage of gestation. But one abortion industry backer on the city council, Trudy Jones, later came up with a resolution seeking “the hiring,” writes Ms. Sullenger, “of a special counsel who would seek a declaration from a judge concerning the constitutionality of the proposed … ordinance … . The resolution also provided,” she reports, “for the special counsel to seek an injunction against the vote,” despite the vote by the city council and the filing of a citizens’ petition signed by nearly 27,000 voters, circulated for only 20 days.

The city council responded to Ms. Jones by referring her resolution to a committee, reports Ms. Sullenger, “that will not take it up until after the election takes place.” Oh, well. Nice try.


Useful, Ongoing History

Commentary by National Right to Life’s Dave Andrusko, reprinted from blog of Illinois Federation for Right to Life

The Hyde Amendment sticks in the craw of abortion absolutists as much as any pro-life law ever enacted. And today [Sept. 30] marks the 37th anniversary of passage of the law (the “Hyde” is the late pro-life champion Rep. Henry Hyde), a titanic struggle that represented a major success against the federal funding of abortion.

Prior to its passage in 1976, the federal Medicaid program paid for 300,000 abortions a year. Conservative estimates are that there are well over one million people alive today because of the Hyde Amendment.

On this anniversary, there are many things worth remembering. Here are just five:

      1. Pro-abortionists never gave up, and it was not until the Harris v. McRae case, settled in 1980, that the United States Supreme Court agreed the law was constitutional. And even then the Court was split 5-to-4. National Right to Life filed an important brief in that case.
      2. Pro-abortionists have made a concerted effort to pretend that somehow the Hyde Amendment would prevent ObamaCare from allowing federally subsidized health plans to cover abortions. This was and is completely erroneous.
      3. Polls consistently show strong majorities against federal funding of abortion.  Pres. Obama opposes the Hyde Amendment. No surprise, in either case.
      4. Speaking of never giving up, pro-abortionists still grind their teeth when they speak of the Hyde Amendment. For them the “right” to abortion never meant only the legal right to abort. It required that through Medicaid you and I and every other taxpayer fund their abortions.
      5. Because the Hyde Amendment is just that – an amendment – it is a fight pro-abortionists take up every time the annual appropriations bill of the Dept. of Health & Human Services comes up.

We have a lot to thank the late Rep. Hyde for. At the top is enactment of the Hyde Amendment.

[Life Advocacy Briefing editor’s note: The best way to thank our late champion is to advocate “no taxpayer funding of abortion” in every campaign for public office and to repair the fissures that have developed over time – particularly in this new era of American government. Lives are being lost, and the death-toll of babies taken at our taxpayer expense is growing.]


Searching for Subsidies

Commentary by Charles A. Donovan, president, Charlotte Lozier Institute, published Oct. 3, 2013, by National Review Online

Under the Affordable Care Act, on Oct. 1, state health-insurance exchanges opened for consumers to research plan options and enroll in a plan of their choice. The options include the new multi-state plans (MSPs) that are administered by the federal Office of Personnel Management (OPM). They are available in select states during this first year of a four-year phase-in process.

On the first day the exchanges were available, the Charlotte Lozier Institute (CLI) examined the OPM site and its initial list of more than 150 MSPs in an attempt to ascertain which plans cover elective abortion and whether the Obama Administration has complied with the law’s requirement that at least one MSP in each exchange exclude such coverage.

The attempt was, to put it charitably, an adventure. From the Administration’s point of view, of course, whether a plan excludes or includes elective abortion is not a point deserving emphasis on the OPM website. Instead, it contains a clickable map of the United States under which the names of insurance companies operating an MSP in each state are listed. The variations are significant. Alaska has 36 MSPs; California and Michigan, just four and two, respectively. The average number per state at the outset? Just three.

So which of these plans will cover elective abortion, and how is an uninsured woman or family to know? Since the OPM site is singularly unhelpful, CLI conducted a small test and contacted the MSP providers in Maryland, New York and the District of Columbia, inquiring specifically whether they cover elective abortions. Beginning from the OPM map, we determined which healthcare insurers are offering MSPs in these states, proceeded to their company websites, and called their “Contact Us” numbers. Here is what we learned:

    • District of Columbia, CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield. CLI was immediately connected with a live individual who asked for our caller’s name, zip code, and whether she was inquiring about a plan for herself only or for her family. The representative was unsure about abortion coverage and placed our caller on hold. She returned shortly and conveyed that she was “still researching that,” as she “didn’t have that information right at the moment.” While the representative offered to answer other questions and kindly quoted the cost of monthly premiums, she eventually offered a website to visit and a specific phone number to call for the Maryland Health Connection, which, she assured the caller, “would currently have this information.” A call to the Connection yielded more than 15 minutes of hold time. A simple search on the MHC website for “abortion” yielded zero results.
    • Maryland, CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield. An automated menu connected us immediately with a live representative, who informed CLI that the OPM website had listed their plan names differently. What appeared there as “Blue Cross Blue Shield Preferred 1500, A Multi-State Plan” is actually titled the “Blue Preferred HSA-Silver” plan. After this clarification, the representative explained that customer-service representatives “don’t get a full contract” to have on hand, that the “part of the site [that would allow her to determine whether abortion was covered] is not working,” and that everything is “still new.” The representative did provide us with a quote for the monthly premium of a person of the proposed age and zip code but apologized for being unable to answer our question.
    • New York, Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield. After automated menu selections, CLI was connected with a live person who asked for the applicable New York zip code and personal information, including which healthcare insurer our caller was currently under, before transferring us to another representative. After a five-minute hold, another representative informed us that for “anything under the Affordable Care Act that becomes effective on January 1st, … the policies are not available yet.” We clarified that we were calling about the multi-state plans that opened for enrollment that day. The representative reassured us that they would be able to answer our question if we called back in two weeks.

Keep in mind that this was an attempt to compare MSPs on a single, controversial matter that is addressed by the law itself and of import to millions of Americans. The asserted purpose of exchanges in the first place is to provide an unbiased forum so that consumers can quickly and easily compare plan costs, provisions and providers.

But what if governments and insurers think that some points of comparison are of little consequence? If they can’t eliminate them by law, they may just as effectively make those points all but invisible.