Will Abortion Loopholes Stay in US Health Law? Bishops' Aide Reflects on Initial Sign From Administration
WASHINGTON, D.C., JULY 22, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Protests from pro-abortion groups about abortion coverage in the new U.S. health care law simply prove the analysis the bishops originally made of it: that there are loopholes that need to be closed.
This is the reflection made by Richard Doerflinger, associate director of the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
In an article at the USCCB blogspot, Doerflinger recounts, "Congress passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) in March, amidst an unresolved debate about the legislation's impact on abortion and conscience protection."
The bishops opposed the bill on the grounds that it appropriates billions of dollars in funding without prohibiting the use of these funds for abortion. Some said the bishops' analysis was erroneous and claimed that "legislative intent" and an executive order from the president would prevent abortion funding.
"Fast-forward to July, when one of those PPACA provisions appropriating billions of dollars was about to take effect," Doerflinger wrote. "Section 1101 of the Act provides $5 billion for 'high-risk insurance pools,' providing much-needed health coverage for people with 'pre-existing conditions' who cannot otherwise get coverage. [...] State governments can propose the benefits list and other details for covering their residents in these pools, but the federal government makes final decisions and provides all government funds for subsidizing this coverage."
Pennsylvania, New Mexico and Maryland announced on their Web sites that the plans would include abortion, which brought public criticism from pro-life groups.
After an initial vague response, on July 14 the Department of Health and Human Services issued a "new and more welcome response, saying that abortions simply 'will not be covered' in these plans except in cases of rape, incest or danger to the mother's life, as has long been true in federally subsidized health plans for federal employees," Doerflinger noted.
He continued: "Now pro-abortion groups are crying foul, with the interesting complaint that this pro-life outcome goes beyond anything in PPACA or the executive order. In other words, they are saying the bishops'
analysis of loopholes in these documents is right."
Doerflinger cautioned that the "high-risk pool program is just one funding stream left open to abortion by PPACA."
Though it seems "pro-life forces have won the first round," the bishops' aide called for "a legislative fix to close such loopholes once and for all."
He said the "Protect Life Act" sponsored by Pennsylvania Republican Joe Pitts and 115 other members of the House of Representatives offers such a solution.
Doerflinger affirmed, "Whether these or other billions of dollars in taxpayers' funds are used to help kill unborn children is not a matter we should leave to shifting politics or to chance."