As many of you know, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the “Affordable Health Care for America Act” (H.R. 3962) late Saturday night by a slim two-vote margin. What was less noted in all the clamor was the important addition on November 7 of the Stupak-Pitts Amendment, which bans public funding for abortions through a public health care system. Although United Families International in no way supports H.R. 3962, we want to impress the necessity of this amendment for any health care bill that may be passed into law. If the government is to put into place a new health care program, it must include a clear and direct guarantee that no U.S. citizen will be forced to pay for the abortion of unborn children. The Stupak-Pitts Amendment provides that guarantee.
The Stupak-Pitts Amendment
The Stupak Amendment, sponsored by Representatives Bart Stupak and Joseph Pitts, essentially removes the two most dangerous pro-abortion components of H.R. 3962. First, the amendment explicitly prohibits the proposed federal government insurance program, also known as the “public option,” from funding abortions other than in cases of rape, incest, or danger to a mother’s life. Second, the amendment also prohibits the use of federal premium subsidies, also known as “affordability credits,” to purchase private insurance plans that cover abortion, except once again in cases of rape, incest, or danger to the mother’s life. The bill in no way limits private insurance companies from providing abortion coverage, butensures that federal funds are never used to cover the procedure.
Past Precedent: The Hyde Amendment
Before the addition of the Stupak Amendment, pro-abortion lobbyists were using the new health care plan to override previous protections in the Hyde Amendment against publicly-funded abortions. The Hyde Amendment, named after chief sponsor Republican Congressman Henry Hyde, was passed in 1976 in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. It bans the use of federal funds appropriated under the annual Health and Human Services (HHS) bill to pay for abortions through federal insurance programs or insurance subsidies.
Although there is debate as to whether the amendment applies strictly to funds appropriated under HHS or to all government funds, past precedent has established that the amendment applies to both HHS and all government trust funds. The amendment now includes Medicare, Medicaid and all government-employee insurance plans.
Previous to the Stupak Amendment, H.R. 3962 violated every component of the Hyde Amendment and ensured federal funding for abortions both through the public insurance option and federal insurance subsidies. However, pro-abortion lobbyists attempted to conceal this misuse of public funds through the Capps-Waxman Amendment.
The amendment claimed that the new health care plan could pay for elective abortions without violating the Hyde Amendment by using funds drawn on a U.S. Treasury account, as these would be considered “private funds.” However, funds paid out by the federal government are federal funds. Therefore the Capps-Waxman Amendment amounts to nothing more than federally-funded abortion in sheep’s clothing.
Thus, the last minute passage of the Stupak Amendment to H.R. 3962 is an important achievement for all pro-lifers. In comparison, the official health care bill passed by no more than two votes, whereas the Stupak Amendment passed by a powerful 240-194 vote. This margin is a solid reconfirmation that U.S. citizens are directly opposed to any public funding for elective abortions.
A study conducted by International Communications Research in September of this year showed that 67 percent of Americans oppose any “measures that would require people to pay for abortion coverage with their federal taxes.” Additionally, 48 percent of Americans support a direct prohibition of federal funding for abortion, while only 13 percent believe that the government is responsible for such funding.
The Persistent Threat
Unfortunately, the Stupak Amendment is in no way a secure victory. If similar or identical language is not included in whatever version of the health care bill may pass, there is a very real possibility that the amendment will be entirely removed when the Conference Committee meets to resolve differences between the two versions of the bill. The result will be a hollow victory for the pro-life movement and a huge advancement for the pro-abortion lobby in securing unlimited access to abortions through U.S. federal funds.
This is no small threat. If the U.S. were to begin funding abortions with public tax dollars, it would essentially be a federal endorsement of abortion at a time when the pro-life movement is beginning to gain real momentum in the U.S. and around the world. In fact, a recentPew Research Center poll shows that support for legal abortions in the U.S. dropped by 11 percent from 2008-2009.
Similar indicators of support for the pro-life cause can be seen around the world. Just last month thousands of Europeans gathered in Spain to oppose pro-abortion legislation in an unprecedented rally for the sanctity of life. The UN Human Rights Council also began a move towards reaffirming life by convening a new workshop on the relationship between traditional values and human rights. Yet, this shift towards life is most notable in youth, as youth involvement in pro-life groups has increased dramatically worldwide. This is encouraging news for all who strive to protect the unborn.
Work Left To Do
Therefore, the small victory of the Stupak Amendment is a great call to action. We cannot allow the Senate or the Conference Committee to remove this important amendment and replace it with a replication of the Capps-Waxman Amendment. Such an event would undermine much of the progress made in support of life and send a message to the world that the U.S. not only allows but promotes abortion.
If you are a U.S. citizen, watch this issue carefully and click here to contact your senators and contact your representatives to express your opposition to any health care bill that does not include the language of the Stupak Amendment.
Internationally, continue to express your feelings regarding the sanctity of life to your political leadership. As global support for protection of life strengthens it is important that they hear from you. When global pro-life forces speak in unison we will see a stronger commitment to protecting the sanctity of life around the world.
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