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The Baucus Plan and Abortion–part 1

The following, from Missouri Right to Life’s Legal Counsel Jim Cole, is part I of a detailed analysis of Senator Baucus’ health care plan, the “America’s Healthy Future Act”, that has been discussed recently in the Senate Financial Services Committee.:

In the years I served as the state legislative chair for Missouri Right to Life, one of the lessons I learned was that when legislators keep the text of their legislation secret until the very last minute, they are usually trying to pull a fast one. Senator Baucus’ much-publicized health care reform plan gives every indication of that kind of maneuver.

The Senator has released a “Chairman’s Mark” of his plan, but that is not the text of the bill, merely a summary that his staff has prepared. (Some misinformed editors on the Web have provided links to what they call the “text of the bill,” but all the links this writer has found lead to the summary called the “Chairman’s Mark,” not the actual bill.) The text of the bill itself—the part that will actually become the law if enacted—does not appear to be available as of the time of this post. Therefore, all we the people know about the Senator’s plan is what he says about it in the “Chairman’s Mark.” To force people to assess the merits of his bill while hiding the actual text is not a way to win confidence and quell doubts, to say the least.

But for the moment, if we assume that the description of the bill in the “Chairman’s Mark” is accurate, then many people will wonder, “Does the bill promote abortion? Will it fund abortion with public money?” The answer to both questions is “yes.”

I do not pretend to have found all the ways that abortion may be paid for by the Baucus plan. Even if the text of his bill was available, there are ways of hiding how money is going to flow, such as by deputizing the new health care bureaucrats to work out details of the plan. But I can point to a few things in the “Chairman’s Mark” that indicate the Baucus plan would promote abortion and use the public’s dollars to pay for it.

Here is the first way in which the bill will promote abortion. It relates to the minimum coverage that the government will require all health care bills to provide.

Beginning at page 25 of the “Chairman’s Mark” is found a section entitled, “Abortion Coverage Prohibited as Part of Minimum Benefits Package.” It recites that abortion cannot be mandated in a new health plan “except in those cases for which federal funds appropriated for the Department of Health and Human Services are permitted” for abortions. “Chairman’s Mark,” p. 26. (The Department will be called here “HHS.”) The reference to appropriations to HHS refers to the Hyde Amendment, which is an annual rider that has to be enacted every year as an amendment to the HHS appropriations bill. The Hyde Amendment allows HHS money to pay only for abortions to save the life of the mother and in situations of rape and incest. It covers mainly the Medicaid program.

Unfortunately, one of the goals of the President is to do away with the Hyde Amendment. During his campaign, he promised to work for its defeat, and he makes no secret that he wants the federal government to fund abortions. If his allies in Congress have the political strength to enact this health care plan, they will have the strength to do away with the Hyde Amendment, too. Once that is done, then under the Baucus health care proposal, the government may mandate that minimum benefits for health care plans shall include all abortions. And there is no doubt that it would do so under the Obama Administration.

The prospect of such a maneuver makes a mockery of any claim that the Baucus health care plan does not promote abortion. If Senator Baucus truly wanted to ensure that the government would not mandate that abortion must be among the minimum benefits of all health care plans, then his plan would simply say so, without tying the limitation to an annual appropriation rider that the President will work to end as soon as he can.

More later on additional ways that the Baucus plan attempts to insert the detestable practice of abortion into the mainstream of medical practice and then uses the public’s dollars to help pay for it.

Parts II and III to follow soon…

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) has introduced several amendments that would prevent government funding for abortion and would protect current conscience laws for health workers. The Financial Services Committee will be voting THIS TUESDAY on these pro-life amendments.

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