(Photo: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)
Elective abortions will be covered health insurance plans for members of Congress and some of their staff, even though there is already a law banning the practice.
Under the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare," members of Congress and some of their staff must get their health insurance from the law's new health care exchange set up by the District of Columbia, rather than the government insurance plan they have been provided.
Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) found that only nine of the 112 plans (eight by Aetna and one by BlueCross BlueShield) available to members of Congress do not cover abortion. The other 103 plans will pay for elective abortions.
The Smith Amendment, first passed 30 years ago, "prohibits the Office of Personnel Management from funding or even engaging in administrative activities in connection with any plan that includes abortion," according to Smith's office. The congressional health plans, are, therefore, "now violating the Smith amendment since OPM has begun to administer a system for members of Congress and their staff to obtain taxpayer-subsidized insurance coverage that pays for the destruction of innocent unborn children."
"Abortion isn't health care," Smith said. "It kills babies and harms women. We live in an age of ultrasound imaging – the ultimate window to the womb and the child who resides there. We are in the midst of a fetal health care revolution, an explosion of benign interventions designed to diagnose, treat and cure the youngest patients."
Abortion funding in congressional health plans is just the latest in a controversy over abortion funding in the ACA. Other states are also funding abortion, some of which are eligible for taxpayer subsidies, in the plans available in the new exchanges and for some state's Medicaid plans. There is also a controversy over a mandate requiring that most employers cover abortifacient drugs in their employee's health insurance plans.
During the debate over the ACA, pro-life Democrats were objecting to the law because of the abortion funding. Those Democrats reached an agreement with President Barack Obama. Obama signed an executive order that was supposed to prevent public funding for abortion.
In September 2012, former Congressman Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), who was one of those pro-life Democrat hold-outs, said during a Democrats for Life panel at the Democratic National Convention that he was "perplexed and disappointed that, having negotiated the Executive Order with the President, not only does the HHS mandate [to cover abortifacient drugs] violate the Executive Order but it also violates statutory law."
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of SBA List, a pro-life group, argued that pro-life Democrats were naive to believe that the Obama administration would not use taxpayer dollars to fund abortions, in a Wednesday press release.
"Obamacare was forced through only after pro-life Democrats naively accepted a promise and an executive order from the White House that taxpayer dollars would not be used to fund elective abortion. Promises as well as laws have now been broken," she said.