Government Funding Increases Use of a Product or Service: Abortion is No Different

Only days after hundreds of thousands came to Washington to participate in the annual March for Life, marking the 41st anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 7, the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act" by a vote of 227-188.

H.R. 7 is not new public policy. This bill simply codifies what has been federal law for the past 30 years. It makes permanent the Hyde Amendment that prohibits the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) from paying for abortions or paying for the administrative costs for healthcare plans that include abortion coverage. H.R. 7, like the Hyde Amendment, recognizes that abortion is not healthcare.

H.R. 7 is necessary because there have been recent incidents where the Hyde Amendment has been bypassed, most famously in provisions of Obamacare, or other pro-life riders have not been reauthorized in spending bills, which has resulted in the government funding abortions via different avenues and programs.

Thus, H.R. 7 restores government neutrality vis-à-vis the funding of abortion.

Prohibiting the use of taxpayer funds to pay for abortions is supported by 61 percent of Americans, according to a 2011 CNN poll. Americans are not in favor of paying for other people's abortions.

History has shown that direct federal funding for abortion increases the number of abortions performed. According to a 2007 report by the Guttmacher Institute, the Hyde Amendment ban on federal funding for abortion has prevented between 18 and 35 percent of women who said they would have had an abortion from actually having one. In other words when the government subsidizes abortion, abortion increases by roughly 25 percent. Does anyone think government financing of abortion will actually work to fulfill former President Clinton's call to make abortion "rare?"

It is normally found that when the government funds a project or service, the use of that project or service increases. It is counterproductive for the government to fund something that it hopes to make rare.

Failure to reauthorize pro-life provisions on appropriations bills each year has immediate consequences. This is why principles of the Hyde Amendment need to be codified in federal law and applied across the government. For instance, in 2009, the FY 2010 Omnibus Appropriations Act did not reauthorize the Dornan Amendment that is like the Hyde Amendment but applies to the District of Columbia. This amendment prevents government funds from being used to pay for abortions in the District of Columbia. While Dornan was gutted from 2009-2011, taxpayers paid for abortions in D.C. – around 300 abortions, for a total cost of $185,000. Although the Dornan Amendment was later reinstated in April of 2011, for a year and a half taxpayers did indeed pay for abortions in the District even though the Hyde Amendment was in place covering HHS programs.

Despite numerous claims and reassurances by the Obama administration that Obamacare would abide by the Hyde Amendment, in fact Obamacare bypasses the Hyde Amendment by directly appropriating funds for healthcare plans in the form of advanceable, refundable tax credits. Indeed, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the cost of the premium credits will be nearly $72 billion. We know these credits will pay for healthcare plans under Obamacare that include elective abortion despite the fact that the Hyde Amendment is still in place. Because of this, H.R. 7 blocks healthcare subsidies for healthcare plans that include abortion coverage.

Additionally, Obamacare's abortion secrecy clause only allows insurers to provide information on whether abortion coverage is included in a plan in fine print when people enroll. Most Americans will not know they are purchasing insurance with abortion coverage. H.R. 7, however, requires the full disclosure of whether abortion is covered in a healthcare plan at the time of enrollment. Only with this additional clarity can individuals make an informed healthcare choice.

Be all that as it may, H.R. 7 in no way prevents insurance companies on the exchanges from offering healthcare plans that include abortion coverage or prevent women from paying for abortion coverage with their own money.

If H.R. 7 becomes law, women could still purchase healthcare plans with abortion coverage or have an abortion in the District of Columbia. Additionally, states would still have the ability to use their own funds to cover abortion in their state healthcare programs. H.R. 7 simply prohibits taxpayers from being forced to pay for other people's abortions.

This commonsense approach to abortion policy has been law for over 30 years but each year its reauthorization is dependent upon politics and what political party is in power.

H.R. 7, the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act" permanently eliminates the taxpayer's role in the abortion industry.

Emily Minick is a senior legislative assistant at the Family Research Council.

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