Thursday, May 4, 2017

A big day of first steps on tax funding of abortions

Today two critical priorities of the prolife movement were advanced closer to victory in Washington, D.C.

First, in the morning, President Donald Trump signed an executive order on religious liberty. Part of the order includes directing his administration to finally help those whose conscience rights were harmed by the Obama Administration's Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) contraceptives mandate. The mandate included forcing prolife organizations like Right to Life of Michigan to purchase drugs and devices which can cause abortions. The charity Little Sisters of the Poor was the face of those impacted by this onerous regulation. President Trump recognized the Little Sisters at the signing ceremony, promising them their ordeal would be over soon.

The Supreme Court last year in May voted unanimously to suspend enforcement of the HHS Mandate in Zubik v. Burwell and ordered the Obama Administration to fix their policy. The Obama Administration unsurprisingly didn't care to do that before leaving office. The Little Sisters of the Poor were parties in the case.

There was some concern a few weeks ago that HHS lawyers on the case had yet to be reassigned and the Trump Administration asked for more time to resolve the case. Today's order makes clear that President Trump intends to reverse Obama's purposeful attack on prolife citizens.

It's now incumbent on his administrative agencies to finally resolve this infringement of conscience rights once and for all.

Second, in the afternoon, the U.S. House voted 217-213 on the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which has been touted to repeal and replace Obamacare. As far as the provisions affecting our prolife issues, the AHCA has two important parts: it defunds almost all of Planned Parenthood and repeals Obamacare's abortion funding through insurance plans. It now goes to the U.S. Senate for consideration. It can't be filibustered there, as it is a budget reconciliation bill.

The reconciliation procedures has led many people to be confused about the process. Reconciliation bills only require a majority vote in the U.S. Senate. They can only be used once a year on several issues dealing with the budget and spending. The recent continuing resolution to fund the government through the rest of the fiscal year led many people to believe Congress was abandoning their effort to defund Planned Parenthood. Use of reconciliation will allow Congress to defund Planned Parenthood without the pro-abortion minority in the Senate blocking it.

Defunding Planned Parenthood through budget reconciliation has a few unique drawbacks. First, the defunding would be for only one year, similar to how the Hyde Amendment is added to the budget every year to prevent tax dollars from directly paying for abortions. Second, the AHCA defunds most but not all of Planned Parenthood's federal funding. Planned Parenthood would still receive Title X family planning funding until the law governing Title X is amended (subject to a filibuster), but a few weeks ago President Trump signed an executive order allowing states to send the Title X money that passes through them to other organizations if they choose.

Every other source of federal Planned Parenthood would be redirected to other agencies, however. Just in Medicaid alone Planned Parenthood would lose nearly $400 million to other organizations that provide health care, not abort babies. Pro-abortion state and local governments would still be able to send Planned Parenthood tax dollars.

Besides advancing conscience protections for prolifers, the practical effect of the AHCA on Planned Parenthood would be losing nearly a third of their budget and the vast majority of their taxpayer funding. An organization that proclaims itself a champion of choice will no longer rely on coercing half of America into helping them expand their abortion services and abortion politics.

Right to Life of Michigan directly addressed health insurance coverage of abortion through Obamacare in 2013. Our opt-out law doesn't address the states that failed to opt-out of Obamacare abortion coverage, meaning Michiganders' tax dollars have been paying for abortions through health insurance subsidies in other states. The AHCA repeals this violating of conscience rights.

But before those become reality, the AHCA has to be passed by the U.S. Senate and signed by President Trump.

We look forward to finishing these jobs and adding them to the list of prolife promises kept by President Trump.