Yes, Virginia, The Federal Health Law Does Cover Abortion

I can’t say I was ever lost, but I was bewildered once for three days.

—Daniel Boone

Before President Obama’s so-called Affordable Care Act was even signed, concerns surfaced over whether abortion funding was included. The President’s administration and supporters pooh-poohed claims that it would be, and due to the bill’s immense size and complexities, many were and bewildered in their quest for clear answers.

The fact is that the President’s health law funds abortion in multiple ways, which require sleuthing through executive order, legislation, and agency information to uncover.

Executive Order Is No Insurance Against Abortion

On March 21, 2010 the U.S. House of Representatives decided the fate of the Senate’s proposed version of the law. Despite problems on many levels, the outcome hinged on whether Representative Bart Stupak and a coalition of other professed pro-life Democratic representatives stood firm against the bill, because it included federal funding for abortion.

After intense lobbying from the White House, Representative Stupak accepted President Obama’s promise of an executive order to supposedly restrict abortion coverage—and others in the coalition followed his lead.

Nine Ohio Democratic Congressional representatives voted in favor of this pro-abortion bill, thus providing votes necessary for its passage. They were 1st District Congressman Steve Driehaus—who was part of Stupak’s much-publicized pro-life coalition—plus Charlie Wilson, Marcy Kaptur, Dennis Kucinich, Marcia Fudge, Betty Sutton, Mary Jo Kilroy, John Boccieri, and Tim Ryan.

It is mystifying why Stupak and coalition accepted the executive order at all, because it is no secret that any sitting president can rescind an executive order at any time. An executive order also cannot change or override an existing law—revision is possible only through Congressional legislative process and amendment.

As National Right to Life stated,

“The executive order promised by President Obama was issued for political effect. It changes nothing. It does not correct any of the serious pro-abortion provisions in the bill.  The president cannot amend a bill by issuing an order, and the federal courts will enforce what the law says.” [1]

Despite President Obama’s promise that Americans would not have to pay for abortions, the bill had and still has no provision to prevent federal funding of this deadly practice.

Abortions Disguised, Costs Shared

Under this law abortion can be covered in state-run health insurance plans, while at least one health insurance plan that pays for abortions must be promoted nationwide. The bill includes the Mikulski amendment that defines abortion as preventive care, further ensuring that insurance plans in the federal exchange will pay for them.

But let us be clear. Preventive care is to prevent an illness or a disease.  Pregnancy is not a disease; fertility is not an illness; and motherhood is not a medical condition.

Also, anyone enrolled in an insurance plan that includes abortion must pay a monthly $1 premium to cover the costs of other women’s abortion. The enrollee will make two payments, $1 per month for the separate abortion fund and another payment for the rest of their insured services.

Most people won’t know about this until they’ve signed up for their plan, because Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has included a gag order where insurance plans may advertise only the total cost of the premiums, without disclosing that enrollees will be charged a $1 per month fee to directly subsidize abortions.

Elsewhere, the federal health bill legislates a $7 billion separate fund for the 1,250 federally funded Community Health Centers (with more than 8,000 service delivery sites) across the nation.

Under the bill, Community Health Center funding is no longer part of the HHS budget, thus any HHS budget restrictions do not apply. This means that the Hyde amendment that restricts HHS funds from paying for most abortions is inapplicable.

Though some have said that Community Health Centers don’t offer abortion services, the Reproductive Health Access Project web site [2] includes detailed how-to information for Community Health Centers to do so, even discouraging them from referring women to other abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood.

The Reproductive Access Project also tells how to make the idea of providing abortions more acceptable to Community Health Center staff members.  It’s recommended that abortion services be disguised “… in the context of reproductive choice, family planning, and the concept of helping every mother to have her children when she feels she can best care for them….”

HHS Mandate Expanded, Restrictions Bypassed

In January 20, 2012, the federal health law’s HHS Mandate (offspring of the Mikulski amendment) went into effect.  This is when the HHS ruled that virtually every private health care plan must cover sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs, and birth control at no cost and regardless of employers’ or citizens’ moral and religious convictions.

The Obama administration even expanded the originally announced mandate to require insurance plans for all universities, faith-based or not, to provide no-cost contraception, abortion-inducing drugs, and sterilization to their students, as well as employees.

The HHS mandate justifies free coverage of birth control, abortion-inducing drugs, and sterilization, again as “preventive care.”

Then, in early March of this year, we learned that 700 additional pages had been added to the existing 2,500-page-plus monster, including expansion of abortion coverage.

And Section 1303 of the bill simply bypasses federal Hyde Amendment restrictions that federal funds appropriated to HHS by Congress cannot be spent for health benefits coverage that includes elective abortion—one more example of this administration’s overstepping of established law.

Pro-Life Congressmen Take Action

More abortion coverage expansion may be ahead, but some Congressmen are at least addressing one clear funding scam. If a new bill introduced by Congressman Chris Smith is passed, insurance companies will no longer be able to hide whether their plans cover abortion and that they will charge enrollees a $1 monthly abortion surcharge.

At the time of this writing, the Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act (H.R. 3279) has 70 co-sponsors, and is meant to remedy Sebelius’ deliberate gag order that deprives customers of information they need, and deserve, to make a conscientious health care decision.

Hopefully similar legislation is on the horizon to address the federal health law’s other abortion promotion and prevent further serious breaches (such as adding elective chemical and surgical abortion as “preventive care” covered for free under the HHS mandate).

We may have been bewildered once regarding whether the federal health law covered abortion, but no more. The jig is up.


Paula Westwood is Executive Director of Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati, board member for Ohio ProLife Action, and weekly pro-life news contributor for the Son Rise Morning Show, broadcast nationally via Sacred Heart Radio/EWTN (513/728-7870,

Michael Hamilton contributed to this article.

1 National Right to Life News, “Democratic-controlled Congress enacts 
Obama-backed health care bill, but the fight goes on;” April/May 2010,

2 Reproductive Health Access Project, “Frequently Asked Questions about Integrating Abortion into Community Health Centers;”

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Related on OCR: “Abortion Activists Condemn Patient-Protective Legislation”

Related on OCR: “Ohio Protects Late-Term Abortionist”

Related on OCR: “Ohio Medicaid Expansion Tied to Anti-Life Policies”

Related on OCR: “One Heartbeat Away: What Happened to the Ohio Heartbeat Bill”


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