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By The Numbers…Funding Abortion in the Health Care Bill

I recently asked a senior Capitol Hill staff member about the little known “abortion fee” in the Senate health care legislation the House of Representatives will vote on Sunday.

“Federal subsidies for insurance policies that cover abortion are not allowed under the Hyde amendment.  In order to get around that aspect of the Hyde amendment, the Senate bill employs an accounting gimmick by which funds are ‘segregated.’  Part of that gimmick results in a direct abortion fee for most users of the exchange.  You should be aware that one plan on the exchange will not cover abortion, so in theory pro-life persons could buy a plan that does not charge the abortion fee.  However, if their other needs dictate that they must choose a plan that covers abortion, they will be required to make a direct payment into an abortion fund (see page 2074-2075 of the Senate bill). According to the bill, the payment must be equal to at least a dollar per month and insurance companies may only provide information about the abortion fee as a part of the summary of benefits at the time of enrollment.  Furthermore, insurance companies and the exchange may only provide information about the total cost of a plan without explaining the abortion fee. (see page 2076 of the Senate bill)”

You may recall, in December Catholic Advocate issued a press release calling the Senate language smoke and mirrors. Later, in January, Senator Barbara Boxer was bold enough to confirm in an interview that the Senate bill DOES NOT restrict abortion.

Health care exchanges have gained popularity after being signed into law by then Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts. The purpose of the exchange idea is to provide coverage for the uninsured; for example, those not eligible for an employer-sponsored plan or a public program such as Medicaid.

What does it mean when you break it down by the numbers?

The Census estimates 45.7 million people in the United States are uninsured. However, the “Numbers Guy” at the Wall Street Journal has raised legitimate questions about the Census’ calculations inflating the actual number.  Others have reduced the number by 17 million. For illustrative purposes then, we will split the difference at 37.2 million.

  • 37.2 million uninsured potentially enrolled into exchange system
  • $12 / year potentially paid into “abortion fund”
  • $446,400,000 potentially paid into “abortion fund”

The cost of an abortion depends on the stage of pregnancy and which clinic is providing services. First trimester procedures run about $500-$1,000. Second trimester procedures cost $600-$10,000. Taking into account potential needed follow-up or other complications, for illustrative purposes, we will use $7,500 as the average cost of an abortion.

That is potentially 59,520 additional abortions that can be funded by the federal government each year just from this section of the legislation 158 abortions occur every hour. Under Obama-care the number increases to 165 every hour. This does not include the $7 billion of federal money slated for community health centers to be used for abortion.

If President Obama was serious about making abortions rare, he would not be forcing Americans to subsidize an “abortion fund” that increases the number of abortions occurring each day.

Pro-Life Democrats led by Representative Bart Stupak (D, MI-01) and others in the House of Representatives have refused to let their voices be silenced during this debate. Now is the crucial time when they need our support.

They are standing for those who cannot stand.

They are speaking for those without a voice.

By Matt Smith, Catholic Advocate Vice President

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