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The following letter was sent by the National Right
to Life Committee (NRLC) to Members of the U.S.
House of Representatives on Saturday, November 7,
2009, at Noon EST.
RE: NRLC scorecard advisory:
H.R. 3962, the Stupak Amendment, abortion, and
the “public option”
Dear Member of Congress:
On behalf of the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC),
we are writing to urge you to support the
Stupak-Pitts Amendment to the “Affordable Health
Care for America Act,” H.R. 3962, that was
introduced on October 29.
H.R. 3962 would create (1) a nationwide insurance
program run directly by the federal government, “the
public plan,” and (2) an “affordability credit”
program that would subsidize health insurance for
tens of millions of Americans. These two new
government programs will subsidize elective abortion
– a drastic break from decades of federal policy --
unless the Stupak-Pitts Amendment is added to the
bill to prevent this outcome.
As NRLC’s congressional scorecard for the 111th
Congress will clearly explain, a vote against the
Stupak-Pitts Amendment can only be construed as a
position-defining vote in favor of establishing a
federal government program that will directly fund
abortion on demand, with federal funds, and a second
federal program that will provide government
subsidies to private insurance plans that cover
abortion on demand. NRLC regards this as the most
important House roll call on federal funding of
abortion since the House last voted directly on the
Hyde Amendment in 1997. If you do not wish to go on
record in support of creating major new federal
programs that will both fund abortions directly and
subsidize private abortion coverage, please vote for
the Stupak-Pitts Amendment. NRLC will regard a
“present” vote as equivalent to a negative vote on
the Stupak-Pitts Amendment.
The Capps-Waxman language, which was added to H.R.
3962 in the House Energy and Commerce Committee
despite the objections of pro-life members of both
parties, has been falsely “marketed” as consistent
with the principles of the Hyde Amendment. In
reality, the Capps-Waxman language would explicitly
authorize exactly the things that the Hyde Amendment
prohibits in the existing Medicaid program: direct
government funding of elective abortion, and
government subsidies for plans that cover elective
Allow us to address first the “public option”:
Language on page 110 of H.R. 3962 (lines 1-7)
explicitly says that “nothing in this Act shall be
construed as preventing the public health insurance
option from providing for . . . coverage of services
described in paragraph (4)(A).” The “services
described in paragraph (4)(A)” are elective
abortions (i.e., all abortions, abortions without
any limitations whatever).
You may have read in news stories or elsewhere that
language has been included in H.R. 3962 that would
“segregate” federal funds away from the payments for
abortions. Those references are completely
inapplicable or nonsensical with respect to the
“public option.” It is utterly impossible to
“segregate” federal funds away from abortion within
the “public option,” because the “public option”
will be a federal agency program that can spend only
federal funds (like Medicare).
Others may have directed your attention to page 246
of H.R. 3962, which contains a paragraph caption
that reads, “Prohibition of Use of Public Funds for
Abortion Coverage.” Do not be fooled. A paragraph
caption has no legal effect whatever. The operative
bill language that immediately follows the paragraph
caption states simply, "An affordability credit may
not be used for payment for services described in
section 222(d)(4)(A)” [i.e., elective abortions].
But an “affordability credit” is only one type of
federal funding. The language on page 246 does not
restrict the use of all other types of federal funds
to pay directly for elective abortions -- and the
use of other types of federal funds is explicitly
authorized by the “nothing in this Act shall be
construed” clause on page 110.
In particular, the so-called “premiums” that will be
collected by the government from citizens who enroll
in the “public option” will become federal funds
when the government assumes control of them (as the
Congressional Research Service has confirmed in a
memorandum dated October 9, 2009).
Thus, under H.R. 3962, the public plan would be
engaged in direct funding of elective abortion,
using federal funds. The federal program would pay
abortionists for performing elective abortions.
(It is, of course, entirely irrelevant whether or
not the federal agency hires contractors to help
process the paperwork, as also occurs under
Medicare.) It is untenable to claim, as some have,
that this federal program would pay for abortions
with “private” funds. The public plan is the
federal government, and if it pays for abortions, it
is federal funding of abortion.
We turn now to the second abortion-related problem
in the bill: the new premium-subsidy program
(“affordability credits”). The Capps-Waxman
language in the bill explicitly authorizes federal
subsidies to pay the premiums of private health
plans that cover elective abortions. This, too,
would be a break with the policy established under
longstanding federal laws, under which federal funds
do not flow to health plans that pay for elective
abortions. For example, the 260 private plans that
participate in the Federal Employees’ Health
Benefits program are prohibited by law from
including elective abortion coverage, because they
are federally subsidized. Likewise, in Medicaid,
current law prohibits not only direct federal
funding of abortion but also federal funding of any
fund that pays for abortions – and this ban covers
even state matching funds.
Thank you for your consideration of the position of
National Right to Life on this critical matter,
which we convey on behalf of our affiliates in all
National Right to Life Committee
Susan T. Muskett, J.D.
Senior Legislative Counsel
National Right to Life Committee