Missouri Family E-News

February 3, 2015

U.S. House Votes to Ban Obamacare
Funding of Abortion    

The U.S. House of Representatives has adopted legislation which would put an end to taxpayer funding of abortions through Obamacare.

House members voted 242-179 to adopt the "No Taxpayer Funding of Abortion Act," sponsored by Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey.

The bill would enact a permanent ban on the use of any federal tax dollars to finance or underwrite the performance of elective abortions.

The major impact of the bill would be to suspend the use of federal taxpayer subsidies to cover the costs of abortions provided through the health insurance exchanges established under Obamacare.

For many years now, there has been a federal ban on taxpayer funding of abortion through the Medicaid program known as the Hyde Amendment.

However, President Obama's health care legislation skirted the Hyde Amendment, setting up a scheme in which the government subsidizes health insurance policies sold through health insurance exchanges administered in each state.

A Government Accountability Office (GAO) study released last year found that a total of 1,036 health insurance plans subsidized by Obamacare payments include coverage for elective abortions.

Missouri is one of several states that acted to prohibit abortion coverage in Obamacare health insurance plans offered through exchanges in the state.  However, 27 other states have failed to enact such a restriction.

The result is that Missouri taxpayers are paying for abortions being performed in liberal states that endorse taxpayer financing of abortion.

Congressman Smith's bill would also require that consumers be provided complete information about the inclusion of abortion coverage in health insurance plans they may be considering.

A provision in Obamacare known as the "secrecy clause" has made it nearly impossible for the average person to determine whether specific plans cover abortion until after they have already enrolled for the coverage.

Congressman Smith cheered the vote by his colleagues to terminate taxpayer involvement in the destruction of the lives of preborn children.

"In September of 2009 President Obama stood 6 feet from where I stand now and told the American public that 'under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortion.' Turns out those ironclad promises made by the President are absolutely untrue."

"Health care consumers are buying health insurance with little or no knowledge that they are purchasing abortion subsidizing plans," Smith added.

Under Obamacare, low-income Americans qualify for health insurance subsidies from the federal treasury through what the law described as "affordability credits." 

In addition to these subsidies, many consumers are required to pay an abortion surcharge of $12 per year.  The surcharge is imposed in specific health plans regardless of the gender, age, or reproductive capability of the consumer.

Congressman Smith points out that the GAO study revealed that the separate billing of this abortion surcharge is not being enforced by the Obama Administration.  Instead, the abortion premium is being illegally rolled into the total cost of the respective plan.

Representatives in the U.S. House from Missouri who voted for the bill were Congresswomen Ann Wagner and Vicky Hartzler, and Congressmen Sam Graves, Billy Long, Blaine Luetkemeyer, and Jason Smith.

Congressmen Emmanuel Cleaver and William "Lacy" Clay voted to continue taxpayer funding of abortion.

You can let your member of Congress know how you feel about their vote by using this link:
Members of Congress


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U.S. House Fumbles
Bill to Ban Most Late-Term Abortions

National pro-life leaders remain extremely disenchanted with the U.S. House of Representatives over their recent failure to pass legislation which would establish a national ban on most late-term abortions.

Congressional leaders had promised pro-life activists that they would pass legislation known as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.  The bill would prohibit elective abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, a point in time in fetal development when it is believed that abortion procedures cause a preborn child intense pain.

Leaders in the Republican majority had planned to vote on the Pain-Capable bill on January 22nd, the 42nd anniversary of the infamous Roe v. Wade decision that created a supposed constitutional right to abortion.  The vote would have coincided with the presence of hundreds of thousands of pro-lifers gathered in the nation's capital for the annual March for Life.

At the last minute, Congressional leaders abandoned plans to take up the bill for a vote after a reported mutiny by a group of female Republican representatives led by Congresswoman Renee Ellmers of North Carolina.  The women reportedly objected to the wording of a provision that would have exempted rape victims from the ban.

The language in question would have required that such women have reported their sexual assault to law enforcement authorities.  In our view, the controversy over the reporting requirement is irrelevant.  There is absolutely no reason for a rape exception to be included in a bill banning late-term abortions.  A woman who has been sexually assaulted has already had five months to make a decision to abort the developing child in her womb.

Carol Tobias, the President of the National Right to Life Committee, offered some of the harshest criticism of the failure by the U.S. House to pass the bill.  "This small handful of congresswomen and men did something unconscionable.  These lawmakers claim to be 'pro-life,' and they were elected to Congress in part because they promised their constituents they would support laws to save the lives of unborn babies."

Some national pro-life leaders have included Missouri Congresswoman Ann Wagner among those whose conduct they have questioned.  While we do not know with certainty what actions the Congresswoman took behind the scenes, we do know what she did publicly.  Representative Wagner was among those who took to the floor of the House to speak out in favor of the pro-life initiative.

"While killing an unborn child is unconscionable at any time, it is especially abhorrent at the 20-week mark when the child is able to feel the pain of an abortion.  I believe that life at all stages--from conception to natural death--is truly a gift.  I strongly support a ban on abortions after 20 weeks."

In an interview after the debacle, Representative Wagner had this to say:  "I believe that a 20-week old baby that feels pain and recognizes the sound of its mother's own voice at that age should not be aborted, and that the only exception I support is the life of the mother.  We are working on some of the details of it.  There remains a commitment to get it done."
The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act is a direct challenge to U.S. Supreme Court precedent governing abortion regulations.  The High Court has stated unequivocally on several occasions that neither the state nor federal government may restrict a woman's decision to obtain an abortion prior to viability.  Last year the Supreme Court let stand a ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals striking down an Arizona law banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Viability has been interpreted by the courts to be that point in the duration of the pregnancy when a preborn child is capable of sustaining life outside the womb.  In practical terms, that definition is highly unenforceable.  The Supreme Court has left it to the discretion of abortionists to determine when viability has occurred.  "Doctors" who profit from proceeding with an abortion have little reason to make a judgment call in favor of the unborn child.

We are among those in the pro-life movement who have reservations about the ultimate wisdom of the "pain-capable" legislation.  The proposal would impact a small percentage of abortions.  At the same time, it seems to establish a public policy and a potential legal standard that it is acceptable to destroy the life of a preborn child so long as that child does not experience pain in the process.  Abortion methods have been devised to minimize the pain an unborn child may experience through abortion.

While there continues to be a serious debate within the scientific community as to when and to what degree an unborn child experiences pain, there is little doubt that it occurs within this general time frame.  Dr. Jean Wright, the former Chair of Pediatrics as the Mercer School of Medicine, says that the 20-week marker is a legitimate one.

"After 20 weeks of gestation, an unborn child has all the prerequisite anatomy, physiology, hormones, neurotransmitters, and electrical current to 'close the loop' and create the conditions needed to perceive pain...By 20 weeks, all the essential components of anatomy, physiology, and neurobiology exist to transmit painful sensations from the skin to the spinal cord and to the brain."

Regardless, it is a travesty that one of the most conservative congressional majorities in the history of the nation cannot find the will or the way to enact a substantive piece of legislation to provide legal protection to the unborn child.  If the current Congress cannot pass a serious pro-life bill supported by the vast majority of the American public, then what are they able to accomplish in the way of major pro-life advances under their leadership?

A poll conducted by the Marist research firm in January 2014 found that 74% of Americans support a law banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, with only 21% opposing such a law.

In place of the "pain-capable" bill, the U.S. House of Representatives instead took up and passed the No Taxpayer Funding of Abortion Act, a measure the House has adopted before.  We have a report on that action in the sidebar story in this Jeff City Update.

Joe's Signature